Cold, hard cash is a common _ and almost always welcome _ gift
item for the holidays, but area financial institutions have some
suggestions to dress up financial gifts for those on the list for
whom the bottom line is foremost.
American Express is offering special Gold Gift Cheques which
can be cashed like traveler's checks but come "beautifully
packaged with a gold check and gold envelope," said Rita Watson,
teller services director for Bank of Oklahoma NA Oklahoma City.
"It is quite a pretty package and is nice for gift giving."
The gift checks can be purchased in denominations of $25, $50
or $100 and cost face value plus $2.50. The check is made payable
to the recipient.
Watson also said that during December, American Express is
donating $1 to Big Brothers-Big Sisters for every check sold at
Another common gift item for those who want their recipients
to look a little further into the future are U.S. savings bonds.
Watson said the series EE bonds are sold in denominations of
$50, $75, $100, $200, $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000. The cost
is half the face value, and the bonds mature in 12 years.
The current interest rate is 6 percent, which is better than
almost any savings vehicle and is guaranteed for the 12-year life
of the bond. The rate changes every May and November. The bonds
must be held for at least six months but can be cashed before
they mature. Of course, any interest earned is paid at
The bonds are issued by the Federal Reserve, but buyers make
applications for them at the bank. They are made payable to the
recipient, even if he or she is a minor. The buyer's Social
Security number can be used if the recipient's is unknown, Watson
Coin sets also are popular gifts, and are moderately priced,
according to Barney Lehmbeck, senior vice president of business
development and marketing at Liberty Bank and Trust Co. of
Oklahoma City NA.
Liberty has four sets available. The $11.75 set includes five
uncirculated 1992 coins _ half dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and
penny. The deluxe silver proof set has the same five coins made
of 90 percent silver. It sells for $37. The 1992 American Eagle
$5 gold coin sells for $64. A two-coin set including an American
Eagle $10 gold coin and an American Eagle silver dollar sells for
More ambitious savings instruments also can be purchased to
finance major expenses for children or grandchildren, such as a
car or college education.
Ken Schuerman, manager of retail banking for Boatmen's First
National Bank of Oklahoma, suggested certificates of deposit or
"strip" investment instruments with maturity dates that
correspond with important dates in a child's life.
Strip, also called zero coupon, bonds are discounted
instruments that are purchased at significantly less than the
face value. They are generally sold in increments of $5,000 or
$10,000, and the holder tucks them away for a specified number of
years until maturity.
Opening regular or special savings accounts is another way for
parents or grandparents to introduce children to the lifelong
concept of saving.
Union Bank and Trust Co., for example, likes to use the
Christmas holidays as an opportunity to market its Kids Bank, a
savings program for children up to 18 years, according to Kenneth
A. Skopec, vice chairman.
The Kids Bank program is designed to "create an awareness of
thrift" among children. It also offers specials such as a higher,
preferred savings rate, a newsletter, outings, and even a piggy
"It has been very well received," Skopec said.
The bank also is offering an after-Christmas present for some
lucky adult. Union, in cooperation with Dub Richardson
Ford-Isuzu, will hold a drawing for a 1993 Ford Ranger valued at
$11,500 at 10 a.m. Jan. 2.
People do not need to be bank customers to enter, and they can
register for the drawing at any of Union's six branches. …