Frequently Asked Questions

Please feel free to contact the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce at 978.353.7600 ext. 222 or by email with any additional questions on the Gift Local Gift Cards.

Gift Card Recipients

How does a Gift Local Gift Card work?

It works just like a traditional gift card. You can purchase the gift card in whatever denomination you want. The card is immediately ready to be used at any participating merchant location. When the card is presented at a participating merchant, the merchant simply enters the card number into a web terminal to redeem. Because the Gift Local Cards cannot be spent outside of North Central Massachusetts, it keeps more dollars circulating in the region and helps support small businesses and our local communities.

Where can I purchase Gift Local Gift Cards?

You can purchase Gift Local Gift Cards at the North Central Massachusetts Chamber office, the Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center on Route 2 in Lancaster or through our online order form. You can purchase the gift card in whatever denomination you want.

Where Can I Redeem the Gift Cards?

The gift cards are redeemable at a variety of local businesses throughout North Central Massachusetts, including restaurants, coffee shops, retail shops, inns, farms, attractions and more. For a current list of participating Gift Local merchants, visit our participating merchant page.

Is there a fee to purchase a Gift Local Gift Card?

There is a $1.00 activation fee per card, regardless of the denomination. If you purchase online, then there may also be shipping fees to cover the mailing. There are no shipping fees if you pick up the gift cards at the Chamber office or at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center. There are no additional fees for the Gift Local Gift Card recipient or owner to use.

Do the gift cards expire?

Yes. The gift cards expire after seven years.

Are cards reloadable?

Yes. Gift Cards may be reloaded if the card owner chooses to reload the card for continued use. The cards can be reloaded at the Chamber Office or the Visitors’ Center. There is a .15 transaction charge each time it is reloaded.

How do I check the balance on my Gift Local Gift Card?

You have several convenient options available to you to check your balance on your Gift Local Gift Card. You can check the balance at any time by calling an automated system at 508.452.7600 ext. 99; you can also contact the Chamber office directly at 978.353.7600 ext. 222 during normal business hours; you can have any of the participating merchants check the balance on their web terminal; or you can visit www.swipteit.com and click check balance. You will need to provide the sixteen (16) digit number on the back of the card. There is no charge to you or any of the participating merchants to check a balance.

What if I experience a problem when trying to redeem my Gift Local Gift Card?

We apologize if you experience any issues when trying to redeem the Gift Local Gift Card. Although rare, occasionally issues may occur. In these situations, the most common cause is typically a new employee or untrained staff member at the participating business who may not be familiar with the Gift Local Gift Cards or how to process them. If you experience any issues with redeeming your Gift Local Gift Card with the front line staff at a participating business then we recommend that you ask for the manager/owner of the business or contact the Chamber directly at 978.353.7600.

Gift Card Merchants

How does a Gift Local Gift Card work?

A: It works just like a traditional gift card. An individual can purchase a gift card at the Chamber office, Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center on Route 2 in Lancaster or through our online order form. The individual purchases the gift card in whatever denomination they want. The Chamber activates the card for the dollar amount desired and deposits the funds in a special Chamber account.  The card is immediately ready to be used at any participating merchant location. When the card is presented at a participating merchant, they simply enter the card into a web terminal to redeem. In addition to the web terminal, a participating merchant has several other options to use to process the redemptions.  The Chamber then receives a monthly redemption report from Swipe It and issues a check from the Chamber Gift Card account to the merchant, minus the Chamber’s 5% fee to cover the administration costs of the program and the .15 transaction fee that our vendor Swipe It charges. It’s that simple!

Will the Gift Local Gift Card program compete with my own gift card/gift certificate program?

No, the Gift Local Gift Card will not compete with your gift card/certificate program or impact sales of your gift cards/certificates.  The Gift Local Gift Card will expose new customers to your business.  The Gift Local Gift Card is an effort by the Chamber to encourage consumers to shop local and spend their money at local businesses, shops, restaurants and attractions. Based on our research, the typical profile of our gift card buyer would be someone who wants to support local small businesses and also wants a universal card that provides the recipient with multiple choices to redeem. The buyer may not know the recipient’s taste in fashion, restaurants or attractions and thus the Gift Local Gift Card provides the recipient with the convenience of using his or her gift close to home and at a variety of businesses. In addition, based on the experience of other chambers and merchant groups, we expect that some local businesses will purchase the gift cards for their employees, customers and others.

Do I have to be a member of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and/or the Johnny Appleseed Trail Association to participate?

Yes, this is a member benefit and participating merchants must be a member in good standing of the Chamber and/or the Johnny Appleseed Trail Association. Participating members who allow their memberships to lapse will have their Gift Local accounts and passwords suspended and their business will be removed from the GiftLocalMass.com and from other advertising that we conduct for the program.

Are there any other fees associated with participating in the program?

There are no upfront costs, unless a merchant wants to purchase a card terminal or they want to incur additional costs through their POS provider to integrate their system with Swipe It. However, it is not necessary to purchase a terminal or integrate your POS system. The vast majority of merchants use the FREE web terminal or the downloadable app. In addition, it can also be redeemed via phone. Otherwise, the only fees that a participating merchant would expect to pay would be the 5% fee the Chamber charges when a card is redeemed and the .15 fee that Swipe It charges for any transaction. There is no fee charged for checking the balance of a card.

Who is the vendor that the Chamber is using for the Gift Local Gift Card program?

The Chamber selected Swipe It as the third party vendor for the processing of the gift cards. Swipe It is a Massachusetts based company that specializes in gift and loyalty card programs. Swipe It was selected after the Chamber researched a number of vendors that specialize in gift cards. The Chamber’s selection of Swipe It was based on a number of considerations including cost, simplicity of their system for merchants to use, customer service and support, their experience with similar chamber gift card programs of this type, and recommendations received from other chambers and merchant groups.

I already use Swipe It for my own gift card program; can I accept the Gift Local Gift Cards too?

Absolutely! Once you sign-up and are registered to participate in the Chamber’s gift card program, you are ready to accept the cards at your shop, restaurant, museum or attraction.

Will Swipe It work with my Point-of-Sale (POS) system?

The FREE Swipe It web terminal and downloadable app may easily be used alongside just about any iPad or Android POS system that has internet access. You just need to toggle between your POS program and the app or web portal. The vast majority of merchants use the free online web terminal or the app to process redemptions received at their store or restaurant. It is not necessary to integrate Swipe It directly with your POS system. In addition to the FREE Web terminal, there are other non-integrated options that you can use alongside your existing POS system. These other options include a standard dial up terminal which processes over a phone line and costs $185; an IP terminal that processes over IP and costs $250; a Wi-Fi terminal which processes over Wi-Fi and costs $325; a phone app which is available for android or Apple iOS and is FREE; an IVR system which is a toll free number to call in redemptions and is also FREE; and a USB card swiper for your web terminal which costs $70.  Based on our research, the vast majority of merchants use the free web terminal.

What if I don’t have internet access or my service is disrupted?

For your convenience, there is also an IVR automated phone number that can be used to process redemptions. If you do not have access to the internet or your service is disrupted, then you can use the phone system.

Will the gift cards swipe through my existing POS credit card terminal?

No, it is unlikely that the gift cards will be compatible with your existing POS credit card terminal as most of these systems are proprietary and encrypted. If you want a card terminal to swipe the gift cards you receive then you will most likely need to purchase one through Swipe It. A standard dial up terminal which processes over a phone line costs $185; an IP terminal that processes over IP costs $250; a Wi-Fi terminal which processes over Wi-Fi costs $325; and a USB card swiper for your web terminal costs $70. However, based on our research, the majority of merchants use the free online web terminal.

What POS systems is Swipe It compatible with?

There are hundreds of different POS systems used by merchants and most use a third party program to integrate gift cards.  Swipe It is integrated into four different programs: Data Cap Gift Epay; Monetra; Bridgepay; and Slipstream. In addition, Swipe It has direct POS integration with Micros and Positouch (Via Slipstream). You will need to contact your POS provider directly and ask them if they are able to use one of these programs.  There would be a charge from your POS provider for the software as well as labor and this will vary depending on the POS company and the type of service contract you have.  Most of the time POS integration is costly, so merchants are better off using one of the non-integrated options. These other options include a standard dial up terminal which processes over a phone line and costs $185; an IP terminal that processes over IP and costs $250; a Wi-Fi terminal which processes over Wi-Fi and costs $325; a web terminal which is FREE; a phone app which is available for android or Apple iOS and is FREE; an IVR system which is a toll free number to call in redemption and is also FREE; and a USB card swiper for web terminal which costs $70.  Based on our research, the vast majority of merchants use the free web terminal.

I have multiple POS stations throughout my restaurant or store. How would I handle redemptions of the gift cards?

During our research, we found the best practice in these situations is to process the gift card redemptions via the web terminal or one of the other non-integrated options at a designated central location, usually a hostess station. For your records, your staff should record the gift card payment in the POS workstation.  This ensures that you have a record of the payment in your system and processed the gift card via Swipe It to receive your payment from the Chamber. If you find that you are processing large volumes of the gift cards, then you can also consider purchasing Swipe It card terminals which range from $185 to $325 depending on the type.

Will the Chamber and JATA add other distributions points in the future?

Initially, we plan to sell the Gift Local Gift Cards at the Chamber office in Fitchburg, the Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center on Route 2 in Lancaster, and online via GiftLocalMass.com. We are open to exploring selling the gift cards in other locations throughout the region and will consider it in the future. Please feel free to contact us if you have any thoughts or suggestions for possible locations.

Does the Chamber market the gift cards and the participating merchants? Do you provide merchants with marketing materials?

Yes, the Chamber actively advertises to promote the sale of the gift cards and the participating merchants. All participating merchants are also highlighted on xjm.1ea.myftpupload.com and listed on flyers provided to all purchasers of the Gift Local Gift Cards. We also have decals and other materials that participating merchants can use in their business if they so choose.

What types of businesses can participate?

Any member of the Chamber or JATA can participate. Restaurants, retail shops, museums, hair salons, amusements, coffee shops, attractions and other related businesses that cater to consumers would benefit the most from participating in the Gift Local Gift Card Program.

Should our business give change back when we receive a card for a purchase?

No. The gift cards are reusable. The merchant does not have to provide change for the remaining balance on the card. It is noted directly on the back of the card that the cards are not redeemable for cash. After redeeming for the purchase, the merchant should give the card back to the customer. If there is a balance then they can use the card again at a later date at any participating merchant. The gift cards are also rechargeable if the customer wants to add to the card at a later date.

What is the average value of the Gift Local Gift Cards?

The gift cards can be purchased in any denomination. There is no minimum or maximum limit. Based on the experience of other chambers and merchant groups that have operated similar gift card programs, we anticipate that the average value of a card purchased will be $50, and the cards purchased will typically not exceed $100. National research indicates that the majority (58%), of all gift card receivers tend to spend more than the original value of the card they received.  So, we anticipate that recipients of the cards will spend more, thus generating additional economic activity at participating merchants.

Can I use Swipe It to establish my own gift card program for my business?

Yes, you can establish your own gift card program with Swipe It. The Chamber has negotiated a special rate for members who don’t already have their own gift card program and want to use Swipe It. You can use the same terminal or processing method you use for the chamber. With the exception of the IVR phone system, which is only set up to remove value from cards and it cannot be used to add value to them. Contact the Chamber for more information on the negotiated fees.

Do the gift cards expire?

Yes, the gift cards expire after seven years.