You’re walking through the store looking for the perfect holiday gift. Everything is too personal, too impersonal, too holiday-ish, too weird, too plain, or too expensive. Then you see the solution to all of your holiday shopping woes. Gift cards! These are so great! You can get them for friends, family, teachers, bus drivers, secret Santa…you name it! But BEWARE shopper! Some of these gifts are not what they seem.
The gift cards that are basically gift certificates, (Wal-Mart, Kmart, money directly for a store) are safest. These can be used for free and are good from the time you buy them until the value is depleted. There are never any fees involved for money left on them, and there are no fees if they are not used for a specific amount of time (MOST of the time).
But now they have these nifty little “gift cards” that are basically pre paid credit cards. You get a card, usually Visa or MasterCard that already has a value attached to it ($50, $100, etc.) and pay that amount. Then you pay the activation fee, which usually runs you about $5.00 to $10.00. You get all excited to give this out, someone really can use this money, and they can use it for ANYTHING! If it is reloadable, they can even keep it and reload it later on after the money you gave them is used. Sounds like the perfect gift, right?
Well, here are a few things that you may not know! These “gift cards” are just a small card that is not useable. The person that will use it has to call an 800 number to give their information and then they will get a card in the mail 7-10 business days later. So, they can use the money you gave them in a week or two. If they decide not to use it for a while, they will incur fees, which will be deducted from the card. Say they leave .50 on it, they forget they even had the card, and then one day, they get a bill in the mail for the card! This has happened to people. They forget they have the card, do not TOTALLY deplete it, and they wind up OWING for the fees incurred because the company is paying to have this account open for them and they are not using it. So, in the end, was it worth it?
Gift cards have come a long way. They make life a little more convenient for us. But that can come with a price tag that is in the fine print, so be sure to know what you are purchasing. You do not want your lovely gift to become an unwanted burden.
Always read the fine print, and, when in doubt, ASK questions!!!!!
HAPPY GIFT HUNTING!