Sunday, March 28, 2010

New rules for fee-depleting gift cards

Gift cards have become so popular, given to or by 95 percent of Americans, angering so many of them with unexpected fees and timing-out deadlines, that the Federal Reserve has stepped in with some new rules.

Have you ever found a gift card tucked away only to pull it out and use it and find that all but $3.25 cents of it has been eaten up in fees? I'm not exaggerating. My kids get lots of gift cards as gifts, and because they are not the best at keeping track of such things, this kind of thing has happened around here. So it's good to hear about these changes, though don't expect them to put an end to all fees on gift cards.

Here's what the Fed says will happen as of August 22:

>  Consumers must have at least five years to use gift cards before they expire.

>  However, service or inactivity fees can still be applied, under certain conditions --

>  if the consumer hasn't used the card for at least a year

>  if the consumer is given clear disclosures about them, and

>  no more than one fee is charged a month

Some better. But it's still buyer beware you may be giving a gift that won't be fully used, and recipient remember to use your gift cards! Right away!

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