2011-12-21 / Features

Rules For Giving And Getting Holiday Gift Cards

By LIZ GOFF

Gift cards, the new millennium form of holiday cash, are likely to be the most sought after holiday gift this year – for the fifth year running, retail experts said.

No matter if you are giving or receiving, chances are you will run into a holiday gift card this season, according to the National Retail Federation.

The following is a list of tips you should know about holiday gift cards, like how to get the most for your money and understanding new card expiration laws:

Know where your family and friends shop. Giving cards to stores they don’t shop at is like not giving a gift at all.

Gift cards for restaurants, home improvement stores, even supermarkets are a welcome surprise for consumers struggling to make ends meet.

In case you are not aware, the CARD Act prohibits gift cards from expiring less than five years from the date they were purchased.

Did you know, you can “re-gift” a card by trading it in for a new card of equal value, you can sell unused cards for cash through online gift exchanges and obtain funds from expired cards through state programs.

When shopping with your gift card, remember to stay within the value of the card, experts said. Post-holiday sales often tempt us to spend more than the value of the card, turning the gift into an unanticipated expense.

If you are the giver of the cards, take time to search for the best bargains. Remember, your family and friends will not know that you paid 50 percent less for the card than its actual value.

Hold on to cards and use them to make purchases during special sales. Gift cards are the perfect way to cash in on an unexpected sale, especially when your funds are low, experts said.

Choose gift cards carefully and use them wisely to get the most for your money.

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