Basically there are two type gift cards available in the market, General Purpose Gift Cards (Sold by companies like American Express, MasterCard and Visa, and by malls) and merchant specific gift cards, such as, Amazon, Walmart, Gap, American Airlines and so on.
So what should you choose?
Here are a few tips we have collected from users, consumer protection agencies and our gift card experts.
Differences between Store and General Purpose Gift Cards:
|Merchant Gift Card||General Purpose Gift Card|
|Acceptance||One store chain||Most stores|
|Purchase Fees||None||$3.95 to $6.95|
(after 6-12 months)
|None||$0 to $4.95|
|Discounted Gift cards||Sometimes||No|
Other than the above, when buying a gift card consider the following:
- Who is the gift card recipient – Will she or he be happy with their gift card?
- Acceptance and product selection – Unless you are certain of the gift card recipient likes, consider buying a general purpose gift card, or a merchant gift card with a wide selection of product and choices.
- Buy from trusted sources
- Fees and Expiration Date
- Consider purchasing only cards that clearly disclose information about the initial cost, monthly fees, and expiration date.
- For general purpose gift cards, expiration dates indicate when the user will need to have the gift card reissued or receive a refund, sometimes at a fee.
- Recent federal law, effective August 2010, establishes gift card protections that require cards to be active for at least 5 years and prohibit fees being charged if gift cards are used within the past 12 months.