Gift Cards Have Lowered Fees and Bumped Up Consumer Protections

Photo (cc) by 401(K) 2013

Over the past several years, small envelopes containing a plastic gift card and topped with a tiny bow have bumped many of the traditional gift-wrapped boxes under the Christmas tree.

Gift cards have been the most requested holiday gift for the past nine years. Because they take the guess work out of trying to choose the perfect present, they’re also a popular choice with shoppers.

Bankrate recently conducted a gift card survey and found that not only are gift cards getting cheaper to buy, but they’re offering more consumer protections, for hazards like theft and loss, than they have in the past.

“With so many recent data breaches and the transition to EMV chip credit cards, security is top of mind for many Americans,” Bankrate.com banking analyst Claes Bell said in a statement. “Retailers are taking note and have made gift cards a much safer way to spend money.”

Sounds great, right? So, which gift card should you buy? Well, that depends on your needs. For example, you need to consider how much money you want on the card, if it’s reloadable and whether it can be purchased and downloaded to a smartphone.

Fortunately, Bankrate did some homework to make it easier for you to select a gift card this holiday season. Bankrate surveyed more than 60 different gift cards, including general purpose cards, store-branded cards, restaurant cards, airline cards and gas station cards.

Highlights from the Bankrate card comparison survey include:

  • Security codes: About half of gift cards offer a security code option now, up from 35 percent in 2014.
  • E-cards: Roughly 67 percent of gift cards are now available as e-cards, an increase from 59 percent in 2014. This is a great option for millennials and other people who have a tendency to misplace gift cards. The “eGift cards are popular for several reasons,” said Monica Eaton-Cardone, CEO at Chargebacks911. “They’re offered by most major retailers, funds are available for use within minutes, and balances can be monitored online.”
  • Purchase fee: About 17 percent of gift cards had purchase fees attached to them last holiday season. This year, that number has dropped to 13 percent.
  • Expiration: Bankrate found that just 8 percent of gift cards have an expiration date. Some expirations apply solely to the physical card, not the funds that are loaded on the cards.

Although Bankrate’s gift card comparison is a valuable tool for consumers, Bell said this: “Everyone should still do their research before making a purchase, but generally, consumers don’t have to worry about being swindled when buying or using a gift card from a major bank or retailer.”

Check out “FBI Warns of Gift Card Fraud, Offers Tips to Avoid Scams.”

How often do you purchase gift cards? How do you select a card? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Reasons You Should Not Claim Social Security Early
7 Reasons You Should Not Claim Social Security Early

The sooner you claim your Social Security retirement benefits, the more you — and perhaps also your spouse — stand to lose. Here are the stakes.

8 Products to Reduce Anxiety and Stress
8 Products to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Current events have you feeling anxious? These Amazon products can take the edge off.

10 Colleges That Offer Free Tuition for Seniors
10 Colleges That Offer Free Tuition for Seniors

These schools let retirement-age students study, tuition-free, while earning college credit.

It’s Worth Paying Extra for These 14 Items
It’s Worth Paying Extra for These 14 Items

Here’s where to find the sweet spot at the intersection of price and quality.

Marooned at Home? Earn Some Cash Playing on Your Computer
Marooned at Home? Earn Some Cash Playing on Your Computer

Earn cash by reading emails, taking surveys, playing games, shopping and signing up for offers through this website.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?
Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?

A growing number of people are wearing two masks instead of just one. Should you join them?

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

This Is America’s New Favorite Grocery Store
This Is America’s New Favorite Grocery Store

Consumers say a familiar name has become their go-to source of grocery items.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

These 10 Postal Price Hikes Start Next Week
These 10 Postal Price Hikes Start Next Week

Starting on Jan. 24, the price of various mail and shipping services will rise.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.