As we approach the holiday gift giving season, more people are finding that an easier and safer option for a gift is to simply buy gift cards to stores you think your friends and family might like to shop. It should be interesting to note that new rules involving the sale and use of gift cards recently went into effect. The new rules will certainly please gift card buyers and users everywhere as the rules directly address the concerns about expiration dates, dormancy fee and much more.
Photo by arvindgrover via Flickr
According to the National Retail Federation, of the $85 Billion in gift cards sold yearly, more than $5 Billion of it goes unused. There have been many claims that this is because the cards expired too quickly, but with the new laws in place, the likelihood of that happening is very little. Now, gift cards must be good for at least five years before they expire and in the case of prepaid cards, money added to the card must also be good for another 5 years from the day it was added.
Another noteworthy part of the law is that there are now limits on fees for dormancy and inactivity. The only time this can be done is if the card has been inactive for unused for at least 12 months. In the case of lost cards however, restaurants and grocery outlets are allowed to charge replacement fees. Even in those cases, they can only charge monthly after the one year period.
The new rules also demand that all the information about charged fees and expiration dates be clearly printed on the card. With this amendment, customers no longer have to worry about their credit going missing from hidden fees. Since the law was just passed recently, cards without disclosures on them are still valid at this time, they can still be sold until January 2011, although all new gift cards printed since April 1 have been required to include the disclosure information.
This new law however does not cover all gift cards. Gift certificates, store gift cards and general use prepaid cards, such as American Express, Visa or MasterCard are all subject to the new law. On the other hand, paper gift certificates, reloadable prepaid cards, phone cards and loyalty or promotional gift cards are exempt from the new restrictions.
In a bid to further help people decide the best gift cards to give to friends and family this holiday, GiftCardRescue.com recently announced the result of a six month long survey showing the Top 20 most desired gift cards. The findings show that people are more enthusiastic about receiving gift cards to the bigger name brands with a variety of shopping options such as Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, etc. than they are about for example restaurant gift cards.
Here is the full list of the Top 20 Gift Cards in 2010:
An interesting fact that makes giving gift cards a safer option is that they can be purchased at discounted prices (up to 30% off their face value) and if the recipient of the card doesn’t like the card/brand, the person can decide to either exchange the card for another one or sell it for cash. An online gift card marketplace like GiftCardRescue.com lets users buy and sell gift cards at discounted prices without hassle.
Experts have also tipped gift cards to be this year’s most popular present. This is in no small part due to the protection spenders are now getting from the government and the ease of liquidating these cards.