A Gift Card 101

Who doesn’t love a gift card? They’re an excellent way of giving a friend or family member the joy of choosing the exact present they want– and cutting down on unwanted gifts. So it’s no surprise that over 80% of presenters purchased them during Christmas. But with so many stores on the high street closing over the last few years, and the nation currently suffering from recession and the potential of closings to come Do they remain a safe option?

Gail Cohen, director general of Gail Cohen, director general of Gift Card and Voucher Association (GCVA) states that: “This year, we’re seeing that more and more people are turning to gift cards, this time to manage the cost of their purchases and avoid unwanted gifts during the current economic crisis. Gift cards enable people to stick to a strict budget and prevent price inflation on physical gifts which is an essential aspect for the 44% of consumers planning to reduce their spending this holiday season.’

The GCVA study shows that 80% of UK adults would love to receive a gift card this Christmas and 23% of people plan to buy more gifts this Christmas to cut costs.

If you’re considering using gift cards, our recommendation for the consumer is to spend them as soon as they can. They’re not meant to be a present for the bottom drawer but can be the perfect gift to treat yourself in the new year,’ says Gail.

But, one of the major issues with gift cards is that it can be worthless if the retailer is shut down before you’ve had a chance to use it. It is recommended to make use of it as soon as possible. Helen Dewdney, founder of consumer rights firm The Complaining Cow says: ‘Many have a limited time period on these. Therefore, make sure you spend it! This is particularly important with numerous retailers entering liquidation. If a company goes through liquidation not go through liquidation, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to utilize the gift card. The administrators will decide. However, it is better simply spending the money.’

Dean Dunham consumer lawyer says: ‘Shop safe at Christmas: pay by credit card… if you purchase an gift card, make sure you purchase one that you can use at multiple stores.’

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to purchasing and using gift cards to ensure your purchase is safe and the recipient is able to use the gift without hassle.

DO: make payments using a credit card

If you’re purchasing a gift card with a value of more than $100, you should use credit card. If the retailer you buy from is bankrupt or closes, the card provider will be jointly responsible for the purchase you made under Section 75 in the Consumer Credit Act, which means you’ll have a greater chance of getting your money back.

If you purchased a gift card from a retailer that later went into bankruptcy using your debit account and you want to contact your bank to file an appeal in the space of 120 days.

Don’t forget to conduct your homework

The acquaintance who visits the same café near to work, or the aunt that visits a local garden centre every week may want a gift card from this business. Before purchasing a voucher go through a quick web search and be on the lookout for media to ensure that there are no imminent signs that the business is in difficulty.

DO: Purchase gift cards that you can use on the internet.

To simplify life for the recipient, consider an item that can be used in stores and online. Most gift cards have this option nowadays, but it’s still essential to verify on the specifics and rules — you don’t want to buy your friend a voucher only to find out they have to drive 20 miles to get it.

DO NOT: limit your spending only to one place

Why give someone one option when you can give them many? A gift card that can be used at various stores means that even if businesses go into administration, your loved one will still receive the gift they’ve always wanted. This can also be a useful gift when you don’t know someone very well.

One4all vouchers are redeemable online or in thousands of stores as well as restaurants, charitable organizations and even pet stores. They also have special gift cards that are themed, like the top games, beauty & spa favourites as well as teen favorites that can be utilized at stores that are appealing to these categories.

National Book Tokens are valid in bookshops across the UK including Waterstones. It is possible to send an e-gift card to someone if you are a last-minute shopper! Similar to National Garden Gift Vouchers, which are taken at garden centres throughout the country and are available to send by evouchers.

DO: think outside the box

Cash as a gift is a safe choice. But, if you’re buying for a teenager or a child, ask their parents if they have a Junior ISA. Anyone can make a payment into an ISA; all you need are the account details. They’ll also thank you for investing into their future!

Tip: It’s easy for gifts that whizz straight into an account to get forgotten about on the big day, give the recipient/parent/guardian an eye-catching card with the details of your gift in.

Don’t ignore expiry dates

The length of the duration of a gift card may vary greatly. You should determine if the card expires by an exact date, or three months or plus when you purchase. It’s best to let your recipient know how much time they have to shop. Ireland have introduced a 5-year minimum expiry date for all vouchers that are sold after the 2nd of December, 2019. when you’re living in the UK you’ll need to check how long your gift recipient is allowed to shop in order to avoid the present from ending up in the bin.

When the gift voucher says it’s for an experience, check whether you just have to book it before the expiry date or actually go on the trip. It’s also worth determining if you are able to extend the validity of the voucher in case you’re required (this could result in a small cost). Make use of Resolver to get in touch with the retailer – although they’re not obliged to extend the validity of a gift card or voucher but they could do so to show their appreciation.

Some gift cards come with no expiration date: the Apple Store, Disney and Starbucks are just a few of the retailers offering this freedom.

DO: Give an experience

For some , memories are more valuable than an product, so why not present them with an unforgettable experience. Make sure you have checked that the closest opportunity for them to use the voucher isn’t far from their home.

Find out on Card Tonic, what gift card has the highest rate

Virgin Experience Days offer a assortment of activities ranging starting with after-dinner tea in Fortnum & Mason to online experiences such as Photoshop or cooking courses. The person receiving the voucher can use it to use it online and choose the date and time that is convenient for them. Most vouchers are valid for a year and must be used within that time.

Buyagift also offer experience vouchers like a two-night stay in a hotel getaway , or a fantastic car driving experience. They offer a variety of day trips throughout Europe and the UK and the recipient can generally pick the location of their choice. There are vouchers to suit all budgets , from $10 money off to vouchers for full package of experiences for up to $250, can either be sent in the post or sent directly to an email address.

Theatre Tokens can be used in more than 270 theaters all over the world, including theatres in West end. They don’t have an expiry date.

Tip: if you have received a physical certificate or gift card that will be delivered through the mail, keep in mind the strike dates and factor these in. Take note of Royal Mail updates.

What happens if a retailer goes bust?

Anyone who is the owner of a gift card for that retailer will be considered to be a credit , and must write a formal claim to the administrator. You’ll be put in a line alongside other creditor. You will, however, get a low spot on your list of creditors – it’s highly unlikely that you’ll receive your money back according to Resolver a consumer complaints site.

It’s important to check if there is still time to use your card, as often the administrator ensure that gift cards or vouchers are honoured. Similarly, if the retailer is purchased by another the company, it could honor current customers who have gift card.