Year after year, gift cards have been a highly requested holiday gift. They are easy and convenient to give, and to receive. Whether you are shopping for that person that is hard to buy for or if you are just looking for a break from the hustle and bustle, gift cards can be the perfect solution. If you are thinking of adding gift cards to your list of giving (or receiving) this year, here are some helpful steps to follow:

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  • Purchase gift cards from sources you know and trust. If possible, try to avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites that you are not familiar with. This will help avoid the potential of purchasing counterfeit or stolen gift cards.
  • Examine a gift card before you buy it. Check the packaging to ensure security seals are in place and have not been tampered with.  Make sure that the codes on the back of the card haven’t been scratched off to show the PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.
  • Keep the receipt with the gift card. Whether you’re giving or receiving, try to keep the original purchase receipt, or the card’s ID number, with the gift card. This will help prove the card’s purchase in case it is lost or stolen.
  • Consider the retailers financial situation. Be prepared if a business is struggling or going through bankruptcy. Sometimes this may change the terms and conditions or value of the gift card.
  • Use the card as soon as you can. It’s not unusual to misplace gift cards or forget you have them.  Using gift cards soon after receiving them will help avoid this. Check the expiration date and understand the terms and conditions of the gift card; this could save you from losing value on the card.
  • Treat gift cards like cash. If your card is lost or stolen, report it to the card’s issuer immediately in hopes of getting back the remaining balance. You might need to show the receipt and the ID number on the card.

While shopping and gifting habits may have slightly shifted this year, the joy in giving has not. By following these easy steps for getting the most value out of gift cards, you can feel confident that this one-size-fits-all gift will spread some holiday cheer.