Giving a Gift Card? Watch Out…

Ever since their introduction, gift cards have been a holiday staple, but this season fewer of us may be giving or receiving them. If you plan on stuffing a stocking with a gift card this season, here are 3 things to watch out for.

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With the economy in the doldrums, it’s more important to make sure the gifts you give this season will provide the most cheer at the least expense, and that’s especially true with gift cards.

According to a recent survey, 60% of us will be giving at least one card this season… that’s down from prior years. And 1/3 of us won’t be redeeming them on a splurge.

“We might see some shifts in what people are buying in gift cards. It might go from luxury items to more essentials from gas and grocery gift cards.”
-Angie Hicks, Angie’s List 

But whatever type of card you give, here are three things to watch for:

First, avoid activation, redemption and other fees where possible. There are free places online where you can check out terms. Check out gift cards on Bankrate.com

Some department stores are offering free gift cards if you spend a certain amount. So look for a deal: but don’t overspend to get a free card.

And beware of stores that might go belly-up.

“Keep in mind you need to buy gift cards from a company that’s stable and is going to be around. Because the last thing you want is a company to go bankrupt and then you lose that gift.”
-Angie Hicks, Angie’s List 

And one last tip: some cards will let you personalize your gift card, for a fee, by adding a personal photo or greeting. A better idea is to put it in another related gift, or maybe a holiday card that you created.

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