Gift cards make a great gift for just about anyone. It helps ease the burden of shopping online and/or in the store for many. Plus, you know the recipients will get something they like at the right size and no duplicates. People spend more than $130 billion on gift cards every year, and about $1 billion of those cards go unspent. Better Business Bureau offers tips on what to look for when shopping for a gift card.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), consumers will plan to buy an average of four gift cards this year, worth about $45 each. When shopping for gift cards, BBB offers these tips:
• Read the fine print before purchasing to determine if there are fees or expiration dates.
• Look at the retailer’s financial situation. If the company looks to be on shaky ground, consider a gift card from another retailer.
• Purchase gift cards with credit cards. Your credit card company may offer protection if the company goes out business.
• Encourage recipients to use gift cards right away in case of store closings.
• Make sure gift cards haven’t been tampered with, removed and placed back in their holders or the backs haven’t been scratched off.
• Have employees scan gift cards to make sure they’re valid and have the proper value once purchased.
• Keep the original receipt with the card as proof of purchase.
• Advise recipients to register gift cards through the stores’ websites, if available, which allows them to check balances and get new cards if lost.
• Buy from trustworthy sources. Gift cards offered on online exchanges or auction sites are sometimes counterfeit or stolen.
• Keep your information private. Reputable organizations won’t ask for your personal information when purchasing a gift card.
• Be wary buying gift cards from multi-vendor racks at retail stores. Instead, purchase them from behind the register or counter at the store.
If you have problems with a gift card, you can call the retailer or contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or call toll-free 877-382-4357. You can also contact your BBB for a list of BBB-accredited businesses in specific industries and business profiles of retailers and/or restaurants you’re planning to do business with. For more advice, visit www.bbb.org or call 800-776-5301.
The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.