Gift card buyers...Prepare

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - 'Tis the season to buy that perfect gift that always fits, is the right color and easy to wrap.

The gift card is becoming a staple for gifting.

But buyer beware..there are things you need to know before purchasing the plastic.

For Melissa Burris, a gift card is the perfect gift.

"It's something that you'll know somebody will spend and that they'll use and you don't have to worry that it won't be used."

As Christmas draws closer and finding that "perfect" gift becomes more difficult it's easy to turn toward that rack of gift cards. Simple and easy..For the most part.

No matter what kind of gift card you buy whether a store card or for a restaurant or even coffee . That adage; "You'd better read the fine print!"  is very, very true.

Buyers and recipients of gift cards need to know that not all cards are created equal.

Some retailers are quite fair with their cards like dealing with a lost or stolen card or where you can redeem them. Online or off line.

Burris, "I've never had anybody tell me they've had trouble with a gift card and I get gift cards myself all the time to the movies and restaurants and places like that and I've never had trouble using a gift card ever."

In a perfect world everyone's story would sound like Melissa's but there are companies that would limit redemption options, charge fees or fail to offer refunds for lost or stolen cards.

Some companies even charge a fee every time you use the card and may charge a monthly fee after a year if the card isn't used.

Arkansas law says they can't do that until the card is 2 years old so we get a little break here. Arkansas also requires fee or expiration details be printed on the front or back of the gift card.

A little research before buying doesn't hurt before buying or using a card if you suspect issues.

Burris, "There are stores that have gone out of business of course you can't use those."

But how would you find out if that gift card in the drawer is any good? One source of information is the website which tracks information on retailers and cards and even those bank cards that can be used like credit cards.

It's also a good place to check on the status of the store for that gift card you received last Christmas and forgot about. Arkansas also has a consumer gift card web site.

I have placed links to both places with this story.

Gift cards are great gifts but buy them wisely.

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