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Gift Cards for the Holidays

The holiday season is drawing near. Consumers are ready to shop! They are barraged by a frenzy of flashy advertisements and persuasive sales pitches. Knowing your rights and being mindful of the fine print can help you in the flurry of holiday shopping. 

If you’ve ever felt confused or frustrated about what to buy for people, you may have already turned to the increasingly popular gift card. According to researchers, holiday gift card purchases totaled $149 billion in 2017, and roughly 20% of gift cards are sold during the holiday season. Before purchasing a gift card for someone, there are some things you should consider. 

The first thing to consider is any fees associated with the card. Bank-issued gift cards such as Visa and MasterCard gift cards can charge an activation fee. The amount of the fee depends on the amount of the gift card. Make sure you know whether any fees may apply to other kinds of gift cards. Some may charge fees if there is no activity for a year. Don’t be taken by surprise. Read the fine print. This information should be disclosed on the gift card itself or should be provided with the gift card.

A second thing to know about is expiration dates. Under federal law, gift cards cannot expire for five years from the date of purchase. You may want to ask about what the “lost or stolen” policy is for the gift card you are considering purchasing. How does the company handle a lost or stolen gift card? 

Another thing to consider is where the card can be used. A store gift card often can only be used at the store in which it was purchased. Other gift cards, such as MasterCard or Visa gift cards, can be used at many places worldwide. 

Once you’ve gathered all of the information about fees and other matters, make sure you pass it on to the gift card recipients. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and kind gesture.

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Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners

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