Gift Cards

Inspect gift cards before buying. Verify that none of the protective stickers have been removed. Also make certain that the codes on the back of the card have not been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report tampered cards to the store selling the cards.

Read all accompanying literature that comes with the card or visit the website of the company you are purchasing the card from to ensure that you know what you are getting. Be sure to provide all of this information to the person to whom you are giving a gift card or gift certificate

Gift cards may look like credit or debit cards, but they are not. Even if a gift card carries a Visa or Mastercard logo, the card is not a credit or debit card and does not automatically come with the same protections if it is lost or stolen.

Using the Card or Certificate

Some gift cards or certificates can be used only at the retailer's store locations; others can be used at any retailer and online. Some large corporations own chains of different stores, and often their gift cards/certificates can be used at all chains (for example, Gap, Inc., sells gift cards that may be used to purchase merchandise from Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Piperlime). Read the fine print and make sure you understand the terms and conditions before you buy.

If you are the recipient of a gift card or certificate, make sure that you have the card's terms and conditions, the original purchase receipt, or the gift card's ID number. If they weren't given along with the card/certificate, ask for them from the person who gave you the gift, and then keep them in a safe place.