Oakland, CA December 12, 2013 – Finding the perfect gift during the holiday season is not an easy job. A gift card is a hassle-free present that gives the recipient the opportunity to pick out something they really like or need. The Bette r Business Bureau (BBB) offers tips on how to choose the best gift card that will suit the recipient.
“When picking out a gift card, like any present, it is important to choose the right tone for the recipient,” said Gene O'Neil, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California. “Understand the type of gift card you are purchasing, in addition to reading the fine print and rules.”
Gift card giving has been on the rise for years and according to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend roughly $29.8 billion on gift cards this year. The survey also states that gas station, department stores and restaurants are top choices for gift cards. Gift cards are popular for their convenience and also the freedom they give the recipient.
The BBB offers these tips when purchasing a gift card:
- Inspect the card before buying it. Verify that no protective stickers have been removed, and 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.
- Know the rules. Understand the different types of gift cards: retail gift cards, which can only be redeemed at the retailers and restaurants that sell them; and bank gift cards, which carry the logo of a payment card network such as American Express, MasterCard or Visa and can be used wherever the brand is accepted.
- Check it out. Make sure you are buying from a known and trusted source. Always check out a business at www.bbb.org. Avoid online auction sites, because the cards sold there may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.
- Read the fine print before buying. Is there a fee to buy the card? Are there shipping and handling fees for cards bought by phone or online? Will any fees be deducted from the card after it is purchased?
- Provide the recipient with back up. Give the recipient the original receipt in case the card is later lost or stolen. Also, before you buy retail gift cards, consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant. A card from a business that files for bankruptcy or goes out of business may be worthless. If the business closes a store near the recipient, it may be hard to find another location where the card can be used.
- Treat the gift card like cash. It’s important to report lost or stolen cards to the issuer immediately. Some issuers will not replace cards that are lost or stolen, while other issuers will, for a fee. Make sure to use gift cards as soon as possible, because it’s not unusual to lose or forget about them.
For more advice on finding reputable businesses around the holidays, visit www.bbb.org
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Reliability ReportsTM on businesses and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 113 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit www.goldengate.bbb.org for more information.