Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Watch Those Gift Card Ripoffs

My current soapbox.

Just a little reminder about those gift cards that seem to be everywhere. If they aren't used immediately, the issuing company 'charges' the card a fee to maintain the balance. Ultimately, it becomes valueless. In addition, if your card is accidentally wiped (as happened to my credit card last year), you have no recourse even if you have the receipt. You've just lost the balance of your gift card. I just read a newsreport that some companies charge fees just for looking up the gift card balance. It is true that some well-known companies don't do these practices. For instance, Target (one of my favorite stores) not only doesn't charge the card to maintain balance, but will replace the unused balance on any lost or stolen card if you have the original receipt (or gift receipt-don't keep the receipts WITH your card!).

What frosts me is that this information often isn't even contained on the card or with the purchasing information. You (or your giftee) don't know until you get to the cash register to buy that your $50 card is now worth only $46. Maybe not a big deal, but the card issuer is CHEATING you by not plainly stating that they will charge you if you don't spend it by such-and-such date.

What I LIKE about some of these cards is that you can often use them for online purchases at the same retailer, which is a great boon for those without a credit card (or trying not to charge up debt).

Off soapbox.

1 comment:

Su Bee said...

Blog browsing and I stumbled onto yours - great name! I didn't know that about gift cards - what good information. I'm going to be really careful about buying them. Thank you!
(PS - great quilts, and cutge little friends!)