SIDEBAR - Gift cards

Here are some helpful tips from the Better Business Bureau regarding gift card purchases:

  • Buy from sources you know and trust. Avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites, because the cards may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.
  • Read the fine print before you buy. Is there a fee to buy the card? If you buy a card by phone or online, are there shipping and handling fees? If you don't like the terms and conditions, buy elsewhere.
  • See whether any fees will be deducted from the card after you purchase it.
  • Inspect the card before you buy it. Verify that none of the protective stickers have been removed. Make sure that the codes on the back of the card haven't been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.
  • Give the recipient your original receipt so they can verify the card's purchase in case it is lost or stolen.
  • Consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant. BBB encourages consumers to use gift cards as soon as possible. If the retailer or restaurant goes out of business before the card is redeemed, there will more than likely be no recourse for the card holder.
  • For more helpful tips and information regarding gift cards, visit If you have a problem with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card first. If the issue remains unresolved, contact the Federal Trade Commission for cards issued by retailers or the Comptroller of the Currency for cards issued by national banks.

    Helpful links from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: