Redeem Those New Gift Cards Soon
Friday, January 07, 2011
Gifts cards have become popular holiday presents for friends and loved ones. But card recipients can be in for a rude shock if they wait too long to use them.
Some gift cards retain their full value for a year, but then merchants are free to begin chipping away at the card’s value through fees. That one-year waiting period on fees expires on the anniversary of the date the card was purchased, not the date you received it.
Other gift cards (including cards issued by banks, credit card companies, and shopping malls) are vulnerable to fees right away, without a one-year waiting period. Another threat to a gift card’s value is store closure: if the merchant goes out of business before the card is redeemed, the gift card holder is out of luck.
Don’t gamble with your gift card by holding on to it too long. The old saying about “money burning a hole in your pocket” was aimed at people who spent money wastefully. But in the case of the modern-day gift card, recipients should think of that card as money that needs to be spent sooner rather than later.
If you feel that you have been treated unfairly by a merchant, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office at 1-877-NO-SCAM.