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Making the Most of Gift Cards

Making the Most of Gift Cards

This originally aired on the Catholic Faith Network’s show CFN Live:

Everyone loves getting gift cards. And many people enjoy giving them as well. More than 75% of adults purchased at least one gift card during the past year. Surprisingly, more than $2 billion dollars’ worth of gift cards go unused every year.

What is a gift card?

A gift card is a form of payment that can be used to make purchases at retail stores, gas stations, restaurants, and other locations. You load money onto the card, which you or the card’s recipients can then spend at accepted locations. Gift cards can be convenient, and useful substitute for cash.

There are two types of cards – physical and digital.

  • Physical Gift Cards can be used in stores or online, while digital cards are designed to be used online or over the phone.
  • Digital Gift Cards can be added to mobile wallets to make purchase easier and more secure.

It is important to check physical and e-gift cards for expiration dates and/or fees if you plan to reload money to the card.

What are some tips when one receives a gift card?

People love giving gift cards. Some people put them in their sock drawer and then forget about them. And one day when they want to use it, they can’t find it in their sock drawer.

So, what should one do?

Protecting Your Gift Cards

Putting them in the sock drawer and forgetting about them is not the best approach.

Here are some steps everyone should take:

  1. Put the gift card in your wallet.
  2. Record the gift card number.
  3. Put the gift card into an app or mobile wallet.
  4. Take a picture of the gift card.
  5. Register the gift card.
  6. Save the activation receipt.

What happens if a gift card expires?

In 2009, Congress passed the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which sets consumer protections for gift cards based on many state laws. 

The Law provides that gift cards cannot expire within five years from the date they were activated and generally limits inactivity fee on gift cards except in certain circumstances, such as if there has been no transaction for at least 12 months.

The federal law creates a floor for regulation and leaves room for states to offer protection. For example, in New York, the expiration date (if any) and any service fees must be conspicuously disclosed on the card to the purchaser.

As to service fees, none may be assessed before the 13th month after issuance.

One resource is the National Conference of State Legislatures. On their website,, they outline the gift tax laws state by state.

What happens if the gift card is lost?

If a gift card is lost, the key is that you need to know the gift card number. Once you have the gift card number, you then need to contact the issuer of the gift card to replace it.

Finding Your Gift Cards

Here are some tips on finding the necessary information:

  1. Find the activation receipt
  2. Locate the store receipt
  3. Check your bank statement
  4. Get out your loyalty card
  5. Try to get a copy of the receipt

Can you put a gratuity on a gift card?

In most cases, yes, you can tip on a gift card. But a little bit of communication with the establishment may be necessary to help ensure a smooth gift-card-plus-tip transaction.

You should first check the card balance. Let the person know you want to add the tip to the total and that you are paying with a gift card. Always have the tip included in the total amount. Bring cash as a backup for the tip, just in case.

Tips on making the most of gift cards!

Tips on Gift Cards

Here are a few tips to make the most of gift cards:

  1. Keep it close.
  2. Know the Terms.
  3. Keep Track of the Balance
  4. Sell, Trade or Giveaway

We hope you found this article helpful. Contact our office today at 1 (800) 680-1717 and schedule an appointment to discuss what makes sense for you and your loved ones.

Russo Law Group, P.C.
100 Quentin Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 102
Garden City, NY 11530

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