Do you still have some gift cards hidden in your home somewhere? Now is the time to use them. Apply them to holiday gift purchases to ease the burden of holiday spending, or use them to brighten up your home or your wardrobe.
The reason I am giving you this reminder is that many of us received gift cards during the holidays last year that we still haven’t used. While there are new laws now that offer us some protections, some of those protections expire after a year.
Here is the low down on what those protections are:
Your gift card balance must be available for five years. The exceptions to this are if the issuer goes out of business or if your balance is eaten up by maintenance fees.
The issuers can’t charge a fee for the first year, but after that first year, they can charge a fee each month! So make sure you use that card before the year is up. You can also be charged a fee to buy the card or replace the card. Usually, cards that can be used anywhere, such as a Visa gift card, will come with a processing or purchase fee.
In order to make sure that you use your gift cards, keep them where you have easy access to them, such as your purse or wallet. Sitting in a sock drawer or still in the envelope or greeting cards they came in are sure fire ways to never use them.
If you don’t think that you will get around to using the gift cards anytime soon, consider selling or trading them. You won’t get the full value, of course, but at least you will get something out of them.
Remember that you can combine gift cards if you have multiple ones that can be used at the same store. This, in a sense, can allow you to save up for a larger purchase, as long as you don’t forget to use those gift cards.