Gift Card 411

Gift cards are this year’s most requested holiday gift, topping the wish lists of nearly 60 percent of adults, according to the National Retail Federation.  The good news, as reported by Walletpop, is that recent laws have made gift cards more user-friendly than ever.  For example, all cards must now be valid for five years after their issue date and inactivity fees may not be charged until a card has not been used for 12 months.

A couple of other points to keep in mind.  Store-specific cards usually do not come with up-front fees as long as you buy them directly from the store.  Network cards, like those issued by Visa and American Express, typically do come with up-front fees.  However, check with your bank.  Depending on the type of account you have, your bank may sell gift cards without fees.  For example, at Chase, if you have a Premier checking account or better and purchase your card in person, there is no fee.  Some mass merchandise stores and e-tailers, like Target and Amazon, have especially user-friendly policies, such as no fees and no expiration dates.

If you receive a gift card this year, be sure to use it quickly and use up the full value.  Every year, lots of gift card value goes unused.  Plus, if the issuer goes bankrupt, you’re probably out of luck.

Are you planning to buy any gift cards this year?  Where do you like to buy them and why?

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One Response to Gift Card 411

  1. Tom Cardle November 8, 2010 at 1:25 PM #

    We usually buy Starbucks or Caribou coffee cards, followed by Target for our college aged kids and nieces and nephews.

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