For years, gift cards have been a popular way to solve the problem of what to give at holiday time. But too often the cards had expiration dates, inactivity fees, and other restrictions that cut into the joy of giving.
New rules enacted last year will eliminate some of the issues consumers have had with gift cards. Under the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act), gift cards purchased after August 22, 2010, cannot have expiration dates of less than five years. Inactivity fees can’t be charged unless the card hasn’t been used for at least 12 months.
But its still advisable to check the details on any gift card you’re thinking of buying. Watch for fees charged just to purchase the card, inactivity fees, and outdated disclosure information about the card. Also be aware that if the retailer whose card you buy goes bankrupt, the gift card is likely to be worthless.
As with any purchase, the key to getting your money’s worth is knowing exactly what you’re getting before you buy.
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