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Gift Card Safety – What You Should Know

Gift cards are a popular choice among gift givers these days. Since you can pick the amount of money the card can have, it’s a good gift to give when you’re on a budget. However, have you thought about gift card safety at all? American Consumer Credit Counseling looks at this in a little more detail.

ACCC has gift card safety insights.

ACCC has gift card safety insights.

Gift Card Safety: Tips to Follow

Gift cards can be great. However, you need to make sure they work properly and won’t become a disappointment for the person receiving them. As with any other financial transaction, there are some tips to follow in order to ensure gift card safety. They include:

  • Make sure you buy your gift cards from a reputable source especially if you are purchasing a digital gift card. Avoid buying them at random online retailers.
  • Take a careful look at the gift card itself. Make sure it is not tampered with before making your purchase.
  • Ensure the cashier activates your gift card at the registry. You should receive a receipt with an activation notice with your purchase.
  • Give the gift-card recipient a copy of the receipt. Having the sales receipt will help to verify the card was purchased in case it’s not functioning correctly.
  • Also keep in mind that the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 (also known as the Credit CARD Act) provided some extra protections for gift cards. If you don’t use the gift card right away, at least the money on your card will be good for up to five years from the date the card was purchased. Any money that might be added to a gift card later must also be good for at least five years. Under the new law, only one fee per month can be charged, and dormancy fees can only be assessed if you haven’t used your card in a year. To read more about rules for gift cards, go to www.federalreserve.gov. Search for “New Rules for Gift Cards.” – Source: Washington Post

Gift Card Safety: Pros & Cons

Once you have a good handle on gift card safety, keep the following in mind to see if a gift card is the right fit for your gifting needs.

Gift Card Benefits

Everyone wants one. Gift cards are in high demand. Also, they offer a lot of flexibility to the giver and receiver, and they don’t expire. Plus, they can be re-gifted. Gift cards you receive can sometimes be a blessing in disguise as you can use them for re-gifting and minimize consumer debt. This can also be a boost to your budget.

They’re easy. A gift card is convenient. You can save yourself a lot of guesswork by getting gift cards. The value of a gift card does not diminish over time. The receiver has the choice to use it at their will in their own time.

They can help you save money. Gift cards are a popular choice among companies too. Therefore, they promote them aggressively. So they may offer discounts when you’re buying or redeeming them.

Gift Card Negatives

Gift cards can appear as an impersonal present. One could think of it as cheating on the process of finding, wrapping and presenting the perfect present.

Some gift cards have fees. These can include activation fees and sometimes even maintenance fees that may not be immediately disclosed.

There is no personal protection. You lose the gift card- You lose your money!

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Dilini is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. To anyone, managing finances can be a real challenge! Any tips and tricks to help get through this are great! Dilini will share her experiences, tips, and tricks along the way through the Talking Cents blog. Stay tuned!

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