7On your side: Buying gift cards - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: Buying gift cards

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Thinking of giving gift cards this year? First, make sure you are aware of any fees or restrictions.

Gift cards are popular, but you need to know the rules whether you are the giver or the receiver.

Coming up with gifts for everyone often takes a lot of guess work and there are no guarantees they'll love it. But, nowadays, there's a gift card for every taste and interest whether you're a sports fisherman or a kid waiting for summer. Many are for specific stores or restaurants but you buy phone minutes and more.

There are new federal reserve rules to help protect consumers. Carmen Million with the SWLA Better Business Bureau says purchasers should be familiar with key changes.

"We want consumers to be aware that there are some expiration dates on cards. They need to be aware of that. There was a new rule that was passed we knew was effective in 2010 that particularly with gift cards, the expiration date can be no less than five years," said Million.

And they have to disclose fees. Million advises read the fine print.

"Any fees or the explanation of fees should be printed on the card and it should be, it's required to be a certain font so it's legible. So, you need to read the fees very carefully but you also need to take into consideration the store that you purchased it from. You want to make sure it's a store that's established, that they're in good financial condition," said Million.

And she says make sure to give the recipient the sales receipt in case for some reason the card doesn't work or is invalid.

"You need to make sure that the integrity of the card is intact, so one of the things that we do is we attach the receipt to it so that you can see, whoever gets it, knows that it was purchased and the amount it was for, so that if they have any problems they can bring this into the store. This is a packaged Visa and it's not been opened, and this one says there are no fees after the purchase so you pay a fee to purchase it but there are no additional fees. But the rules are on the back that they can read," said Million.

According to consumer reports, 62 percent of consumers plan to buy gift cards this holiday season. For more on purchasing gift cards and other ways to protect yourself this holiday season, click here.

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