Giving a Gift Card? Avoid Grievances with These Tips

December 07, 2012
SACRAMENTO, Ca.,  – While giving a gift card takes the guess work out of shopping, they may have hidden fees and strings attached. Better Business Bureau cautions to read the fine print before purchasing and giving. 
California and the United States have both passed laws regulating expiration dates, fees and more. BBB offers the following helpful hints to consider when considering gift cards:
Buy from sources you know and trust. Avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites. The cards may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently
Read the fine print before you buy. While California bars most gift cards from charging fees and stating expiration dates, these rules do not apply to cards that can be used with multiple unaffiliated sellers of goods or services. There are also other exceptions to charging fees regarding the value on the card, the amount of the dormancy fee and the inactivity of the card. To read the full list of exemptions, visit the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
Inspect the card. Verify that none of the protective stickers have been removed. Make sure that the codes on the back of the card haven’t’ been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards. 
Give the recipient your original receipt. This way, the receiver can verify the card’s purchase if it is lost or stolen.
Consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant. While gift card holders may be listed as creditors in bankruptcy proceedings and may gain the value of the gift card back, there are no guarantees. 
Despite ongoing issues with gift cards, sales of cards are still expected to increase this year. According to a survey by Consumer Report, 62 percent of consumers are planning to buy gift cards this holiday season.
For information regarding California regulations of gift cards, visit:
For information regarding U.S. regulations of gift cards, visit:
As a business-supported nonprofit organization, Better Business Bureau's mission is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBB sets standards for ethical business behavior, helps consumer identify reliable businesses through BBB Business Reviews, sets standards for truthful advertising, evaluates and provides reviews of charities, educates consumers, and offers dispute resolution services. More than 87 million consumers rely on BBB for Business Reviews, consumer tips and scam alerts. To learn more, please visit