Watch for these gotchas!


Brian Riley, a senior analyst with TowerGroup, said "People have become more cautious” in buying retailer gift cards, “and they should be.”
Avoid gift card pitfalls.
They’re convenient and popular, but gift cards are often loaded with fees, expiration dates, and other hassles.
A card is one gift that can keep on giving …maybe grief.
Listed here are nine major annoyances that you should look out for when buying or receiving a gift card.
1. You lost your card and have to pay to replace it.
2. Your card can't be exchanged for cash, or it can but it'll cost you.
3. Your card's value is shrinking.
4. Your gift card is expiring. Look for expiration dates, replacement policies, fees, and the like. Keep a copy along with the gift-card receipt.
5. You're charged a fee every time you use the card.
6. The card still has value, but it keeps being rejected.
7. You can't use the card anywhere.
8. The card's Web site says that gift cards can't be sent to your state.
9. You find it difficult to spend the last few dollars on the card. Companies make millions of dollars selling cards that are never or only partially used.
10.Store goes out of business. Just this year, consumers lost about $100 million in gift cards that they could not use when major retailers went out of business, Mr. Riley said.
The final advice I received is that if you do get gift cards this holiday, don’t let them languish. Use them quickly to avoid any problems. And you won’t forget them.
Read more: consumer reports
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