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Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

November 13, 2012

Gift Card Fees Redux

Yes, it’s that time of year again, wherein I warn prospective gift-givers about the less than apparent costs associated with many gift cards.  From purchase fees to dormancy fees and expiration dates, Bankrate.com has the details on the major card providers. Bottom line – retail gift cards generally are the best deal, while bank-sponsored cards often the worst.

For years, the biggest beneficiaries have been the banks and retailers who have quietly pocketed an extra $41B of pure profit, via unredeemed gift cards since 2005. That comes out to about $360  for every US household.  The least I would have expected was a handwritten Thank You note…

A new Federal law, and several state initiatives, limiting the ability of merchants to pocket these unspent consumer funds are beginning to curtail this practice.

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