Hidden fees can make gift cards pricey - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Hidden fees can make gift cards pricey

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December 20, 2007

Albany -- There are only a few shopping days left before Christmas. And this late in the game many are opting for gift cards.

"It's the easiest way to go and we're headed that way to get some. That's a gift I know will be used," said shopper, Kelli Halstead.

"You can use them at any store here in the mall. Their used just like a credit card so you can't get any cash from them. So they just swipe it every time they go use the gift card," said Jessica Leggitt.

"We offer American Express gift cards. The denominations are 25, 50 and 100 dollars each. You are not limited with the places you can go. And that is the main advantage when you get the American Express through Bank of America gift card," said personal banker, Sergio Gonzalez.

Many gift cards include initial fees when you buy them. "For the person that comes and purchases it, we charge them a one dollar transaction fee," said Leggitt.

"They are $3.95 per card," said Gonzalez. 

Activation fees may not be the only thing you have to worry about. Certain gift cards depreciate in value when you don't use it within a certain time limit.

"After the first year it is two dollars a month on the balance of the card," said Gonzalez.

And a few more offer compensation cards are lost or stolen. "If you lose it that's it. We don't refund them," said Leggitt.

"You can call the 1-800 number for American Express and there is a fee of $5.95 for the replacement card. But that is better than not getting nothing back at all," said Gonzalez. 

Your decision on which gift card to get should be based on the shopping habits of the person you buy the card for.

If you buy a card it's also a good idea to keep a record of the date you bought the card, how you paid for it, and the card number.

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