Two leading organizations in the prepaid gift card space published a set of consumer tips for buying and using gift cards for the holiday season. The tips were published by the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association (NBPCA) and BlackHawk Network (the company behind www.GiftCardMall.com).
You can read the full set of tips here. The tips include the following:
- Pick cards that don’t expire for a long time (the cards at the Gift Card Mall never expire). Either pick a card that doesn’t expire, or at least pick one that doesn’t expire for at least five years.
- Keep track of your balance. Pick gift cards that make checking your current balance easy (through an online balance tracking system, through SMS alerts, etc.).
- Take advantage of any protections provided by the card associations (you may need to register your American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa cards to take advantage
of all of their protections).
- Consider using “split payments”. If there is not enough value on the card to pay for a purchase, the difference can be paid with a second form of payment, such as a credit, debit card, cash or check. The cardholder should let the cashier know that they’ll be paying with two forms of payment.
- Watch out for authorization holds. (which can occur at gas stations, or at merchants where a tip may be added). The authorization hold may be for an amount greater than your transaction amount.
These (and other) great tips are explained in more detail in the press release issued by the NBPCA and Blackhawk. Check it out before buying or using a gift card this holiday season.