The paper gift certificate has become a dinosaur as plastic gift cards take over. One of the largest mall owners in the country says its “VISA Gift Card” program has been a smash. Simon Property Group announced this month it is expanding its “VISA Gift Card” program to 43 shopping malls with a complete rollout scheduled to hundreds of other Simon malls next year. During the 12-month pilot program conducted in four Simon malls last year, the company says it experienced a sales increase of more than 60% compared to regular gift certificate sales during the prior 12 months. Simon is also leveraging the “Simon VISA Gift Card” through additional marketing efforts including VISA’s promotion, “Let Me Send you to Hawaii, Mexico or London. My Treat!” Between October 1-31, shoppers at 47 Simon malls will have the chance to use their VISA card to purchase $250 worth of “Simon VISA Gift Cards” and be eligible to receive two free roundtrip airline tickets to Hawaii, Mexico or London. The alliance between Simon and VISA was formed in 1997 in an effort to drive purchasing and brand loyalty among the 100 million shoppers who make more than 2 billion visits to Simon malls each year. The current contract with VISA will expire in October 2003. Simon Property currently owns or has an interest in 249 properties in 36 states. For a complete list of Simon malls, and more information on the “Simon VISA Gift Card” program visit www.shopsimon.com.