For some people on your list, gift cards are a great Christmas present idea. They offer flexibility and also make great presents for distant loved ones because they’re small, flat and easy to post.
But, as convenient as gift cards can be, there are some downsides. Some gift cards charge an activation fee, others may charge an excessive postage fee, while expiry dates and rules about where you can redeem them can also create confusion.
So, with the help of RateCity we’ve looked into which gift cards you should be buying this Christmas.
According to the financial comparison website, Bunnings is one of the best on the market offering as unlimited expiry date. And if the balance falls below $10, the hardware store will give you change in cash.
Retailers such as JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys are also leading the way offering no expiry date and posting you out a card for free. Not far behind are Netflix, Spotify and Aldi offering unlimited expiry and no hidden fees.
However, some to be aware of include Australia Post and Westfield, who will both charge you $5.95 and $2.95 respectively to purchase the card, the Gift Card Store, as fees can climb as high as $12.68, and Coles, who will charge you $5 to purchase the card. While gift cards from clothing retailers Sussan and Sportsgirl can only be used in store.
Under new legislation gift cards must now have an expiry of at least three years, with the date clearly written on it, and post-purchase fees are also banned. However, RateCity research director Sally Tindall said that despite the new legislation, shoppers could still get caught out.
“Short expiry dates and post-purchase fees might have hit the scrap heap but there are still plenty of ways to get tripped up by gift cards this Christmas,” she said.
“Admin fees, credit card fees, postage fees and conditions on how the money is spent are often lurking in the terms and conditions when you do a bit of digging.”
To get the most value out of gift cards, RateCity recommends checking the terms and conditions of gift cards carefully. If you have an expired card, ask the store to honour it.
The financial comparison website also says there’s no need to spend money for the sake of getting your balance down to zero. If your balance is under $10, ask for it back, and if you can’t get it in cash, pay it forward to someone else in the queue.