Consumers Need To ‘Play It Safe’ When Purchasing Gift Cards Urges Better Business Bureau

December 13, 2013

CHICAGO,IL- December 12, 2013 – Finding the perfect gift during the holiday season isnot an easy job. A gift card is a hassle-free present that gives the recipientthe opportunity to pick out something they really like or need. The BetterBusiness Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) offers tips on howto choose the best gift card that will suit the recipient. 


“Whenpicking out a gift card, like any present, it is important to choose the rightone for the recipient,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the BetterBusiness Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Understand the type ofgift card you are purchasing, in addition to reading the fine print and rules.”


Giftcard giving has been on the rise for years and according to the NationalRetail Federation, consumers will spend roughly $29.8billion on gift cards this year. The survey also states that gas station,department stores and restaurants are top choices for gift cards. Gift cardsare popular for their convenience and also the freedom they give the recipient.


TheBBB offers these tips when purchasing a gift card:

·        Inspectthe card before buying it. Verify that no protective stickershave been removed, and that the codes on the back of the card haven’t beenscratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the storeselling the cards.

·        Knowthe rules. Understand the different types of giftcards: retail gift cards, which can only be redeemed at the retailersand restaurants that sell them; and bank gift cards, which carry thelogo of a payment card network such as American Express, MasterCard or Visa andcan be used wherever the brand is accepted.

·        Checkit out. Make sure you are buying from a known andtrusted source. Always check out a business at online auction sites, because the cards sold there may be counterfeit ormay have been obtained fraudulently. 

·        Read the fine print before buying. Is there a fee to buy the card? Are there shipping andhandling fees for cards bought by phone or online? Will any fees be deductedfrom the card after it is purchased?

·        Provide the recipient with back up. Give the recipient the original receipt in case thecard is later lost or stolen. Also, before you buy retail gift cards, considerthe financial condition of the retailer or restaurant. A card from abusiness that files for bankruptcy or goes out of business may be worthless. Ifthe business closes a store near the recipient, it may be hard to find anotherlocation where the card can be used.

·        Treat the gift card like cash. It’s important to report lost or stolen cards to theissuer immediately. Some issuers will not replace cards that are lost orstolen, while other issuers will, for a fee. Make sure to use gift cards assoon as possible, because it’s not unusual to lose or forget about them.

Formore advice on finding reputable businesses around the holidays, visit



As a private, non-profit organization, the purposeof the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs helpresolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation andarbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices andcharitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses andnonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charitybefore making a purchase or donation.