If you are considering giving those finicky family members in your life a gift card this holiday season, Dr. Tony Robinson, marketing professor at Augusta University, offers tips to keep in mind when buying these plastic presents.
- Know the source: Purchase your gift card from companies you know and trust. Beware of buying cards from online auction sites because they may be counterfeit or fraudulent.
- Read the fine print: Before you buy the gift card, read the terms and conditions. See whether there are any fees associated with buying the card or if there are any shipping and handling fees if you buy the card online or by phone.
- Watch out for inactivity fees: Before purchasing the gift card, check the expiration date and policy regarding inactivity fees. Under federal rules, gift cards cannot expire within five years of their activation date; inactivity fees may not be charged for a year, but they can be charged monthly after that.
- Use it before you lose it: Gift cards frequently go unused because they are often misplaced or you forget you have them. Do not wait too long to use the card because inflation and changing prices can affect the card’s value.
- Consider store bankruptcy: If you purchase a card from a company that files for bankruptcy or goes out of business, this will diminish the value of the card. However, call the company to find out if they will still honor the card or refer you to a competitor that will accept their company’s gift cards.