What do I buy? And, from which store? Finding the perfect gift for someone on your list can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Rather than running the risk of purchasing the wrong gift, scads of shoppers often turn to gift cards for help.
One allure of gift cards is that you can opt for any denomination, without actually forking over money to the recipient. However, there are four things you should know about these popular little cards.
In Search of the Perfect Gift
1. Receiving a gift card is great, but how long does the recipient have to use it? Not to worry, money on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was purchased; likewise, from the last date any additional money was loaded onto the card. And, if the expiration date listed on the card is earlier than these dates, the money can be transferred to a replacement card at absolutely no cost to you.
2. Though you many look forward to solving mysteries from time-to-time, with giving a gift card, you undoubtedly do not. The expiration date of a card should be crystal clear, on the card being purchased. Fees, too, must be recognizable on the card or its packaging.
3. Here is where you may take issue with gift cards. Inactivity fees may be charged after a card hasn’t been used for a period of at least one year, but you only can be charged once per month. You also may be charged a fee to purchase your gift card. Replacing a lost or stolen card also may hit you in the wallet, too.
4. Scams have the potential to creep up in every area of our lives. This means there are gift card scams, also. But, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urges those to:
- Inspect the gift card before you purchase it; verify that none of the protective stickers have been removed. Plus, make certain that the codes on the back of the card haven’t been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards, if in fact, they are;
- Buy gift cards from sources you know and trust. This may mean purchasing from the actual retail store or other stores (grocery stores, kiosks or anywhere gift cards are sold). Avoid, however, buying gift cards from online auction sites, because these cards may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently;
- Give the recipient of the gift card your original receipt, so they can verify the card’s purchase in the event it is lost or worse — stolen.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
We all love to receive gifts and gift cards, as well. According to National Retail Federation (NRF), gift card sales have skyrocketed in recent years. Moreover, a ‘2012’ survey completed by the same company concluded that roughly 60 percent of those surveyed, said they preferred gift cards for Christmas. The firm also estimated that $28.8 billion would be pumped into the season, thereby proving the popularity of gift cards.
Double and Triple-Checking
You should enjoy gifting your gift card without too much hassle. Nonetheless, you never can be too careful when it comes to loosening your purse strings. As an added precautionary measure, always, always make sure you read the fine print before purchasing any gift card; a tip that can save you a lot of embarrassment in the long run.