Tips on Buying, Giving & Using Gift Cards Online by Carmine Barbetta (FB)
Gift cards make great gifts. You never have to worry about getting the right size or color, and in most cases the gift recipient can get exactly what they what from their favorite restaurant or retailer. But what do you do if you end up with a gift card that you just don’t want or just can’t use. Here are a few tips that might help:
Gift Card Basics
• Generally there at two types:
o Retail gift cards – sold by stores and restaurants to be used only at those merchants
o Bank gift cards – provided by networks such as American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa, and can be used wherever those networks are accepted
• Since 2010:
o Money on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was purchased, or from the last date any additional money was loaded onto the card
o Inactivity fees can be charged only once per month after a card hasn't been used for at least one year, but you may be charged a fee to buy the card or to replace a lost or stolen card
o The expiration date of a card must be clearly disclosed on the card, and fees must be clearly disclosed on the card or its packaging
• When you give a gift card, give the recipient your original receipt so they can verify the card's purchase date in case it is lost or stolen. Likewise, if you receive a gift card ask for the original sales receipt for the same reason.
• Use gift cards as soon as you can.
• Treat your gift card like cash, and if your card is lost or stolen immediately report it to the issuer.
What to do with old or unwanted gift cards:
• Determine where things stand by reading any terms and conditions on the card and checking for an expiration date.
• Call the toll-free number that should be provided to determine the current value of the card.
• If it appears that the value of your card has expired or that fees have been deducted, contact the company that issued the card to determine if they will still honor the card or reverse the fees.
• If you don’t want or can’t use the card for some reason you do have some options:
o There are trading, direct sell, and auction sites where you can offer the card in trade or for sale. There is generally a small fee or percentage involved. If you are selling the card directly to the site expect to get about 60-70% if the face value of the card. Check out sites like Certificate Swap, Card Avenue, Swap-A-Gift, and Gift Card Bazaar.
o eBay and Craig’s List is always available for whatever you want to auction or sell. Understand, however, that the prices are generally lower than some of the better known gift card sites.
o In many cases you may be able to get cash back for the card. Sites like Plastic Jungle, Cardwoo, Gift Card Buy Back, and Card Pool will take an unwanted gift card off your hands for a small fee.
o Another great option is to donate the card to charity and get a tax deduction.
o Finally, if all else fails - re-gift it!
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