With the holiday season in full swing, many shoppers are looking for the best gift options for family and friends. For those looking to give gift cards, BBB advises you to properly research all options.
Consumers have complained to BBB that they have received expired or stolen gift cards or gift cards that were unusable because of tampering. Some simply couldn’t use or load the cards because they weren’t aware of rules spelled out in the fine print of the card agreement.
When shopping for a gift card, keep the following tips in mind:
- Research before you buy. Make sure you are buying from a known and trusted source. Research a business at www.bbb.org to see a full Business Review of the company. Avoid online auction sites, because the cards sold there may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.
- Read the fine print. Be sure to understand how the card works, if there are any fees associated with buying or using the card and if any fees will be deducted from the card after it is purchased. New federal rules that took effect in August 2010 restrict fees and affect gift card expiration dates, but it’s still important to understand all the terms associated with the card.
- Inspect the card before buying. Verify that no protective stickers have been removed, and that the codes on the back of the card haven’t been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.
- Provide receipt with gift card. Give the recipient of the gift card the original receipt in case the card is lost or stolen.