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Holiday shopping? Make sure gift cards bring you cheer, not tears

Holiday shopping? Make sure gift cards bring you cheer, not tears

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012 8:00 pm

NASHVILLE — When holiday shopping, many Tennesseans and shoppers everywhere rely on gift cards.
Here is how consumers can keep gift cards’ policies from dumping snow on their holiday season.
1. Check expiration dates and fees. In the state of Tennessee, expiration dates, fees and other terms must be clearly disclosed at the time of purchase. The expiration date and fee must be legibly printed on the gift card.
2. Ask about restrictions. Some card issuers deduct a monthly fee from the card or apply inactivity fees, if a card has not been used for a period of time. These fees will reduce the value of the card. Some gift cards do not allow cash refunds for a remaining balance on a card. You will have to either forfeit the balance or buy additional items.
3. Know what it will cost. Major shopping mall operators charge fees for gift cards. Gift cards issued by banks and credit card companies often expire and tend to add fees. Fees — including activation fees, transaction fees, maintenance fees and inactivity fees — can lessen a card’s value.
4. Ask what to do if the card is stolen. Always keep a receipt. Because gift cards are not usually registered to an individual purchaser, they can be easily stolen. Some stores urge customers to access their website and register cards in case they’re stolen.
5. Check on purchase exemptions. Ask if the card may be used at both a store’s physical location and the store’s website. Also ask if the card may be used at other locations, not just the specific store where the card was purchased.
6. Get as much information as possible for the card’s recipient. Ask for a toll-free phone number, in case there are problems with the gift card. Ask if a website that provides gift card details is available.

Published in The Messenger 11.26.12

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