Gift Cards: Buyer Be Aware

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- Thousands of gift cards will be sold at hundreds of stores this holiday season.  For a lot of people, buying a gift card is the easy way out.

"They're simple.  It is one-stop shopping.  That's all there is to it," said Trish Tarkington.

"You don't really know their needs or their wants and so the gift card is the best way to go," said Reeba Jones.

Some warn that gifts like a gift card could be worthless if the current trend of bankruptcies at retail stores is continuing.  Many stores have already filed bankruptcy so far this year including Circuit City, one store that is honoring their gift cards.

Carman Wenkoff of the Retail Gift Card Association formed by companies to protect their customers said:

"The companies that are reorganizing have to honor the cards until they go into a chapter seven situation.

There have been a few instances of that where customers have been given a few weeks heads up so they can come in and use the cards."

"I got a list off the internet that shows what stores are closing and where.  Definitley.  I won't buy anything from a store I know might be closing," said Tarkington.

In other cases, customers aren't that lucky.  In fact, some cards expire or have extra fees.

"I've heard that, but we only get ones from the big name stores," said Darrell Sherrill.

Many stores like Target and Wal-Mart offer cards that never expire and have no additional fees.  If you're buying a gift card, it never hurts to ask about the rules just in case.

"Make sure you tell the person that you're giving the gift card to that it has an expiration date even if its not listed on the card," said Jones.