Action 9: Tips on buying gift cards

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

The National Retail Federation predicts shoppers will spend almost $32 billion on gift cards this year.
 
"It is a good gift,” said Sherry Hall, a shopper. “That way, they can get what they want and don't have to return it."
 
When buying gift cards, consumers should keep six things in mind. 

Gifts cards are like cash. If they get lost or stolen, you're out the money. They're not like credit cards, which have certain safeguards. 

Some gift cards have hidden fees for example, if you don't use them by a certain date, the balance drops. 

Keep the receipt. Some gift cards may not have money on them. One viewer emailed Action 9 and said she went to use her gift card and there was a $0.00 balance. 

If you buy e-gift cards online, GiftCards.com told Action 9 make they can be used in stores and not just online. 

When businesses go out of business, their gift cards are no good, and shoppers cannot get a refund.

"We saw it at the beginning of 2014, a number of prominent e-commerce sites just went offline,” said Better Business Bureau president Tom Bartholomy. “Closed their door as it were. And anyone that was holding one of those gift cards was out of luck."

A new issue that has come up is that con artists write down the numbers that are on certain gift cards and then put them back on shelves. As soon as the card is activated, they can spend the money before the buyer gets a chance. In that case, try to buy gift cards from the back of the rack.

LINK: FTC on how not to use a gift card.

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