5 mistakes to avoid when buying gift cards

5 mistakes to avoid when buying gift cards

Some people, like immediate family and friends, can be challenging to shop for because one wants to ensure one has the perfect gift. But a few people are impossible to shop for since they have extremely discerning tastes. While it may be tempting to get a gift card in such cases, even this solution has its issues. Gift cards may seem straightforward, but people often make mistakes when shopping for one.

Confuse the different kinds of gift cards
Broadly, gift cards are two types: open-loop and closed-loop.
Open-loop gift cards are not tied to a specific retailer or brand. They are mostly backed by a credit card issuer or a big bank, and they can be used anywhere. However, they come with an activation fee. Typically, this fee ranges from $3 to $7, depending on the issuing partner and other attributes. On the contrary, closed-loop cards work only on specific websites or stores. But the good thing is they do not have any fees associated with them.

So, which card should you opt for? Closed-loop gift cards are recommended over open-loop gift cards. One of the top gift card mistakes to avoid is going with the ones that are associated with a payment service brand. These cards are not as good as cash because they attract a fee, which usually decreases the balance over time. Moreover, they are impersonal because there are no specifics that determine how you expect them to spend this gift card. It may seem extremely impersonal and as if gifting is a chore, which is an unpleasant sentiment.

While you can use branded payment service gift cards at any store that accepts them, such cards will attract a fee if you keep them inactive for a few months. This fee will be deducted from your gift card balance and can be about two to three bucks monthly. If this card sits unused in the drawer for a while, you may have a low or zero balance because of the monthly fee paid toward the unused balance. In totality, you bear the fee twice on this card, at the time of the purchase and whenever you leave this card balance unused.
So, individuals must choose gift cards that do not attract any fee and give you complete value for the paid amount.

You pay the full price
You can find several websites that let customers buy unwanted gift cards at a hefty discount. Savings on these gift cards are variable and usually depend on the retailer. Look for authentic and reliable retailers from whom you can buy gift cards at lucrative discounts. However, read the redemption rules when shopping for gift cards from third-party platforms. They usually are stringent in their rules. Some may allow redemption at stores and online, while others can be redeemed online only.

Get stuck with a card you don’t need
Sometimes, people get a gift card from a friend or a colleague that’s not useful to them. However, they shop for a thing they do not need merely to redeem this card. It is another one of the top gift card mistakes to avoid. So, before you do that, stop and look for alternatives. Look for options to sell the gift card. While you may not get the complete face value of the gift card, you can still get some money back. Alternatively, you can re-gift the card to someone who might find this useful. Some websites accept the gift cards as charity. So, donate it or use it to buy something to gift someone.

You buy the gift card from an inauthentic website
There are a plethora of gift card scams occurring online. Some websites sell fake or used gift cards, while others charge extra for shipping. While these websites may have attractive UIs and seemingly wonderful deals, it is not worth the hassle. So, always shop from an authentic website. It is recommended to shop directly from the brand or retailer. If you are getting a gift card cheaper at a third-party store, always check its authenticity before buying it.

You do not check the fine print
You can find some crucial information on the fine print. If ignored, it may lead to monetary loss or a lack of choice when picking a gift. So, before shopping for the gift card, carefully read the fine print, line by line. You will find the validity and the expiry of the card mentioned. Ensure that you have sufficient time to redeem the gift card. Second, check if you can partially redeem the gift card. Some gift cards do not allow partial redemption. So, even if you use only $100 from the $500 gift card, you may lose the balance of $400 if it does not allow partial use. Hence, read all the terms and conditions before putting your money in any gift card.