It’s the holidays, and gift cards are sure to be on many shopping lists.
Americans are expected to spend $27.8 billion on gift cards this season. And whether you give or receive them, there are things you should know to get the most out of your gift card.
Gerri Willis from Fox Business Network appeared on “Good Morning America” to answer questions and share tips about gift cards.
- Watch out for fees. There are two types of gift card fees: shipping charges and service charges. Thirty percent of retailer gift cards can charge for shipping, so before you order a gift card, check to see if you’ll be charged for that. Service charges can include inactivity fees, purchase fees or monthly fees. Check on the gift card’s packaging or the company’s website for the fine print about fees. Starting in January, fees must be clearly disclosed on the card or its packaging.
- Trade in cards you aren’t using for ones you will. Twenty-five percent of consumers have cards left over from last year’s holiday season. To unlock their value, trade in an old card at cardpool.com or plasticjungle.com or cardavenue.com. You can buy, sell or trade cards there, though you may not get the full value.
- Get the rewards. Some vendors will give you more points for buying gift cards than redeeming points for cash. For example, Citibank rewards program required 8,000 thank you-points to get $50 cash back, but you only need 5,000 thank you-points for a $50 gift card.
- Go e-card. If what you really want is ease of purchase, think about buying your card online. Fifty-one percent of gift cards can be bought electronically. Plus, if you leave the card at home, you can still access the benefits through email.
- Get the right card to the right person. If your family members purchase many gift cards, you might think about coming up with a gift card wish list. That way, you won’t be sighing over the Talbot’s card in your wallet and wishing it was from Anthropologie.
- Be frugal. A Consumer Reports study shows that two-thirds of people using a gift card end up spending more than the face value of the card. Who doesn’t, right? But in a recession or economic pullback, it makes sense to hold the line. It’s a gift after all, not an excuse for binging.