They are one of the most popular and convenient presents to give during the holidays, but gift cards are not always headache-free for the person on the receiving end.
Despite federal laws regulating gift cards, there is always that "fine print."
Every card has its own rules and regulations, especially bank-issued cards which are more likely to charge fees for activation and dormancy.
Even though the law says these fees cannot be charged for the first 12 months, additional policies may be set by the merchant issuing the card.
Those policies should be spelled out in the fine print.
The law also says a gift card cannot be sold that will expire in less than five years.
"We do encourage people to use the gift cards quickly. There are safe guards now to help make sure a card does not expire for quite some time, but if a business closes it is going to be hard to redeem that," said Michele Mason with the North Alabama Better Business Bureau.
There are very few holiday presents as foolproof as gift cards, but what happens when you are given one to a place you won't shop?
While many people are out spending their gift cards, others are exchanging them.
You probably did not know that was possible, but it is for today only.
It is gift card exchange day on the web.
Sites like giftcardgranny.com and giftcardexchangeday.com will let you trade in your unwanted cards for cash
Other sites like gift card rescue and coupon trade, will buy your card for 50-90% of the face value.
All you have to do is enter the merchant name and dollar amount, and offers are instantly generated.
If you miss your chance to do this, you have plenty of time to figure out what to do with that unwanted card instead.
"If a card shows an expiration date, you should know that you have up to 5 years from the time that the card is purchased to use it. If an expiration date is on there, you can have the money transferred to another card," said Mason.
If you still decide the card is no use to you, or you decide to spend it and there is a small balance left over, there are some things you can do to make the most of that card.
You can give to charity. A site called Plastic Jungle lets you turn the balance into a donation and it is a win-win situation because it is also tax deductible.
If you love to travel, you can trade those dollars in for airline miles on Plastic Jungle too.
If you are into online gaming, that same site allow you to turn the gift card into points.
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