Check expiration dates, fees on gift cards: BBB - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Check expiration dates, fees on gift cards: BBB

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WSIL -- With just 12 days until Christmas, many people are running short on time to buy gifts. Gift cards can be convenient, but before you buy, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises you check the fine print.

Many times gift cards have expiration dates and fees, and you should also make sure security seals are intact.

"Gift cards can be the perfect solution for the person who's hard to please or a relative who lives in another city," said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. "But buying cards with too many fees or conditions can erode their value. You may be better off giving cash or a check instead."

More people see them as an attractive way to avoid buying the wrong size or duplicate gift for someone. Six out of 10 consumers say they'd like to receive the cards, according to the National Retail Federation.

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act provides some protections to consumers who receive gift cards, such as requiring that card balances remain valid for five years after issuance or after they were last loaded with money. Fees and expiration dates may still apply, however, and fees can erode the value of the cards.

BBB receives hundreds of complaints about gift card purchases every year, and some consumers have reported problems with sites that sell gift cards online. Some online retailers offer gift cards that can be emailed directly to the recipient.

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