Daily Dupaco

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gift card graveyard

Have you used your holiday gift cards yet? Or are they becoming buried in some rarely used drawer, never again to see the light of day?

While gift cards make their way on to many people's holiday wish lists, the recipients don't always follow through and use them.

A national survey by Consumer Reports found that 46 percent of holiday shoppers planned to buy gift cards this past season, even though 15 percent said they still had at least one unused card of their own from the previous year.

Consumer Reports advises recipients to use those cards sooner rather than later. Here's why:

  • You might lose or forget about them.
  • You might be charged inactivity fees. Many bank-issued gift cards come with fees. For instance, you might be charged a monthly fee after 12 months of inactivity. Retail store cards usually have few or no fees.
  • The retailer might go bankrupt. Even if a retailer continues honoring its gift cards during bankruptcy reorganization or liquidation, there could be fewer places to redeem them or less time to do so.

To help remember those cards, consider keeping them in your purse or billfold, suggests Jill Knepper, a member service representative at Dupaco'sFirst Avenue branch in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Another tip: "If people have a store credit card at the same place, put a note around the credit card to remind you to use that gift card," Knepper said.

By Emily Kittle

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