Consumer Reports will take a full-page ad in the New York Times tomorrow to warn consumers about the pitfalls of giving and using gift cards. Their telephone survey found 27% of all gift cards go unused, and retailers took in an extra $8 billion because of unused, lost, and expired gift cards. Here’s their tips for making the most of the plastic:
- Register it Some cards must be registered with the issuer, especially if the card is used for purchases online or by phone.
- Spend it quickly Use the card as soon as possible, especially if it expires or has a monthly maintenance fee.
- Spend it to the last penny If the card balance gets so low that there’s nothing to buy, ask a merchant to do a split-tender transaction. That involves using the remaining card balance for part of the transaction and another form of payment for the rest.
- Hold on to it. Don’t throw out the card when the balance is zero. Some merchants require it for returns.
ConsumerReports.org today also launched a special info hub dedicated to informing and empowering shoppers this holiday season.
(Photo: her wings)