When was the last time you bought someone a gift card? Considering Christmas is less than TWO WEEKS AWAY, we’re going to say it was probably quite recently.
You’re not alone – every year, Australians spend $2.5 billion on buying gift cards to give to that person in our lives who’s impossible to buy for.
Quick, convenient and full of potential, everyone loves a good gift card, right? Although money to spend on something you really want will always trump yet another body wash set, there are some downsides to gift cards.
Namely, that not all gift cards are created equal. In fact, some can be pretty darn sneaky.
We asked financial experts, Rate City for the insider tips into which gift cards we should be buying, and the results were bloody eye opening.
Apple and Bunnings gift cards are some of the best on the market with no expiry date attached to the use of the card. Clothing retailers such as Cue and H&M are also leading the way offering shoppers 36 months to purchase a present before the gift card officially expires.
“Gift cards are meant to operate just like cash, but in reality they come with pages of terms and conditions that often work in the retailers’ favour,” RateCity money editor, Sally Tindall told Mamamia.
“Short expiry dates are the biggest offender, but shoppers also get caught out with postage and activation fees and conditions on where and how the money is spent. The other way shoppers end up forfeiting their cash, is by only spending part of the value of the gift card. Often the balance left behind is never spent, and when the card expiries, retailers keep the difference.
“While a couple of dollars here and there doesn’t sound like much, collectively, Australians spent $2.5 billion every year on gift cards. The Commonwealth Consumers Affairs Advisory Council estimated that up to eight per cent of cards are never used, which equates to up to $200 million in ‘e-change’ that is lost by Australian consumers each year.”
Before you grab just any old gift card off the shelf next time you're in a rush to get to a Christmas party, there's a couple of things Tindall says will stop you from throwing your money away.