Gift cards: Make sure you get what you pay for! - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Gift cards: Make sure you get what you pay for!

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December 17, 2006

Albany - - We are right in the thick of the holiday shopping season. Shopping malls and department stores have extended its hours so you can find that right gift for loved ones. 

U.S. Shoppers are expected to spend as much as 72 billion dollars this year on gift cards. There are some things you should look out for before you check out with one.  

It's non-stop shopping at Target in Albany. Some folks lined up before the store even opened. Ivory Dean is looking for the right gifts for the right people.

"My mom and my dad and my sisters and brothers."

One popular gift these days - gift cards. They're simple, and no there's no need for gift wrap.

"Sometimes during Christmas people really like the gift cards more than actually the gift," Dean says.

But make sure you know what type of gift card you're buying. Some have expiration dates. You may give one as a gift and if the person doesn't use it by a certain date, they could lose out.

Some also have processing fees and when the recipient goes to use it, they may not get the full value you paid.

Target officials say you won't have that problem at their stores though.

"All the gift cards are free. We have many to choose from and the value on the card is purchased by the guest," says Target manager Amy Clark.

What you pay is what the recipient actually gets.

"There is no portion that has to go to any fees for not being used or anything," Clark says.

That's relief for Dean shopper. She loves gift cards. "

Those come in handy. Because it gives you the chance to get what you really really want."

And whether you spend $5.00 or $5,000 on one, you won't have to worry about giving a gift someone really can't use.

Only Connecticut, Montana, and Rhode Island prohibit all fees and expiration dates on gift cards. If you go to buy one, you may want to ask the store clerk if there are any service fees or expiration dates.

Also unlike retailers' cards, some banks and credit card companies charge up-front fees in addition to the value of their gift cards.

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