The Federal Trade Commission shared in a recent article that consumers will spend $32 billion dollars on gift cards this year, and unfortunately, consumers may be wrapping up more than they bargained for with such an easy little gift.
Gift cards may be considered no-hassle gifts, but their fine print, limitations, and accessibility can actually cause problems for the recipient. Before you reach for the gift card, think about a few things first.
Read the fine print that accompanies the gift card because it may have certain rules or restrictions that make it difficult for the receiver to enjoy your gift. For example, some cards may require that you know the exact balance on the card before you use it in a transaction. Other cards have an expiration date or limits on usage.
If you’re buying the gift card for your niece who lives in another state, make sure she can still use the card in her local area. For instance, not all gift cards work in every state. Also check to see if the business for which the gift card applies to is actually in your niece’s area (or in the area of whoever is receiving the gift card); after all, you wouldn’t want to buy her a gift card to your favorite store only to find that the nearest location for her is five hours away.
Make sure the PIN isn’t visible, if the gift card does indeed come with one. Sometimes fraudsters will take note of visible PINs, so they can access money you put on the card. You may also want to research the gift card’s security — what happens if it’s lost, stolen, broke, et cetera.
Be wary of fakes when you buy gift cards online. Only buy from trustworthy sites, or better yet, only buy gift cards in person so you can be certain of the authenticity and condition of the cards.
Make sure using a gift card is as easy and delightful as giving the gift card by keeping these tips at the front of your mind when you shop. For more information on best practices for spending and shopping habits, talk to your Money Coach at 888-724-2326.
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