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Tips for giving gift cards this holiday

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Fewer consumers want to give them – fewer want to receive them.

Connecticut Better Business Bureau says even though gift cards and certificates have not lost their appeal, recent statistics show they are becoming less popular.
According to Connecticut BBB Executive Communications Director, Howard Schwartz, “Few consumers intend to buy gift cards this year and fewer want to receive them, however, this may reflect a positive attitude about the economy.
According to the consultancy group Deloitte, surveyed 5,000 shoppers and found the number of gift cards consumers intend to buy this season has dropped from their peak of more than 60% in 2007, to 43 percent forecast this year.
And few of us want to receive them as gifts, down from 45 percent in 2012 to only 37% this yer, reflecting a gradual downward trend.
Experts say gift cards’ novelty has worn off, but a positive sign is that more consumers feel confident about the economy and are more inclined to buy gifts spontaneously.
“That fact is that giving a gift card is very convenient, because, in some cases you just don’t know what to buy individuals, “ says Schwartz. “They are helpful for friends who like particular restaurant, and if someone is doing home renovations, they’d probably appreciate a gift card from a supply store, so you can tailor them to individuals’ needs.”

Keep in mind that there are two principal types of gift cards and they are covered by different consumer protection laws. Basic gift cards and certificates are governed by Connecticut law, which prohibits sellers to impose fees to an expiration date. Federal laws cover cards issued by federal institutions – such as pre-loaded bank or credit cards, and in those cases, there are usually fees and limitations involved.

Gift Card Precautions

  • Avoid buying from certain websites – When you buy from a classified ad site, don’t know what you are getting. The cards may be may be stolen, counterfeit or already emptied.
  • Don’t buy from sites you don’t know for the same reason. Some fakes pop-up and offer unreasonably good discounts
  • Ask about online fees – Sellers can skirt consumer protection laws by selling a card online, but charging shipping and handling fees that eat away at the card’s value.
  • Connecticut consumers, however, have the same protection from cards bought in state the state, online or out of state.
  • Corner store cards have risks – We know that in some cases, customers may grab a few, scratch off the serial number, copy the informations and replace them before emptying them. Stick to retailers you know.
  • Go for the discounts – Some big box retailers offer a variety of store-specific cards for less than face value. You may often be able to use reward points to purchase a gift card..
  • Gift card exchanges – There are websites where you can buy discounted cards from people who wanted to convert them to cash. You can sell yours too and get 75 to more than 90 percent of their value. Use a reputable site.

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