Make us your home page
Instagram

Some gift cards come with surprise fees

WEST PALM BEACH — Gift cards are expected to be more popular than ever this holiday season, with 80 percent of shoppers planning to buy one, a National Retail Federation survey found. But not all gift cards are created equal, warns Bankrate.com credit card analyst Janna Herron.

General-purpose cards from American Express, Visa, Discover and MasterCard carry purchase fees that you might not notice in the holiday rush. These cards have the logo of a payment card network and can be used wherever that network is accepted.

"While really convenient for the person who you are giving it to, you will have to pay a purchase fee up-front of $3.95 to $6.95," Herron said.

That's not true of most brand-specific cards for a particular retailer such as a department store, specialty store, restaurant, gas station or airline. Few of those have purchase fees.

Bankrate's research into 62 different gift cards turned up just three specific cards that carried a purchase fee: Staples, Toys "R" Us and Chevron/Texaco.

"The other thing we found is that none of the brand-specific cards expire and they do not charge an inactivity fee," Herron said.

Federal law requires that money on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years.

Of the seven general-purpose cards Bankrate surveyed, 71 percent charge dormancy or maintenance fees to the recipient.

People like giving gift cards because it's quick and easy, and there are no worries about size or color. Another plus with gift cards is that there is protection against theft or a lost card. Keep your receipt so the purchase can be verified.

Whatever you do, put the gift card in your wallet so you won't forget to use it. Americans have billions of dollars of unused gift cards forgotten in junk drawers or elsewhere. Some estimates have placed the unused cards as high as $300 per household.

Here are additional findings from the Bankrate survey of 1,001 adults conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates:

• Almost two in three Americans have given a gift card, and more than three in four have received one.

• The most common value of gift cards is between $25 and $50.

• As income level increases, Americans are more likely to give and receive gift cards.

• 56 percent can be delivered electronically, in line with each of the past two years.

• 69 percent of gift card issuers will replace the card and/or funds in the event of loss or theft.

Some gift cards come with surprise fees 11/28/13 [Last modified: Thursday, November 28, 2013 7:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas licensing board asks Sen. Jack Latvala for $500,000 loan

    Local Government

    The troubled Pinellas County agency that regulates contractors wants Sen. Jack Latvala to help it get a $500,000 lifeline from the state to stay afloat.

    State Sen . Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, is being asked to help the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board get $500,000 from the state so it can stay open beyond February.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  3. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  4. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  5. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]