Your Guide to Gift Cards

Gift cards are one of the most popular gifts of the season, Amazon Gift Cardand for good re ason — they’re simple to find, simple to purchase, easy to wrap, and they let the receiver pick out exactly what they want. But now that the holidays are over, there are several things you should know about all those cards you’ve received.

Know Where You Can Use It

While most store-bought gift cards can be used in brick-and-mortar stores as well as online, some e-cards — gift cards bought online and sent via email — are only valid for online purchases. Knowing which is which could save you a trip.

Know When They Expire

Recent government regulations from August 2010 state that all gift cards must be valid for five years from when they were purchased, or 12 months from when money was last put onto it. But make sure to check the fine print on any cards purchased or received before that time.

Check for Fees

Most gift cards have fees, but they don’t kick in until 12 or 24 months after the card has been purchased. Unfortunately, companies have only been required to list any fees on the card itself beginning January 2011, so all gift cards given this holiday season won’t have them. Check each company’s website for details.

Trade It

If you’ve gotten a card you don’t need, you can consider trading it for another gift card. There are dedicated websites for trading gift cards, including, which takes a flat $2 auction fee.

Sell It

It may be easier to sell your gift card. Sites like will buy your gift card out right at 60-80% of the card’s value.


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