Gift cards have become a staple of the holiday season. There are wide range of choices to suit your interests, including cards from airlines, grocery stores, restaurants and more. If you don't want all that plastic, you'll find a wide selection of digital gift cards, and a growing number of smartphone apps will help you keep track of them all.
Before you get one, make sure to read the fine print. Not all gift cards are the same. They vary widely in expiration dates, the amount of fees they charge, whether they can be replaced if stolen, and whether they're reloadable.
To help you decide, Bankrate.com has surveyed 63 gift cards and compared a variety of features. The survey included general purpose "open-loop" gift cards and store-branded "closed-loop" cards. Bankrate.com gathered data on a variety of topics, from expiration dates and fees to e-gift card availability and free shipping.
To view the other card categories, click on the tabs.
- Money loading limits Money loading limits
- Expiration date? Expiration date?
- Dormancy or maintenance fees? Dormancy or maintenance fees?
- Card and/or funds replaced after loss or theft? Card and/or funds replaced after loss/theft?
- Reloadable? Reloadable?
- E-card availableE-card available?
- Online balance check? Online balance check?
- Free shipping / delivery? Free shipping/delivery?**
- Purchase fees? Purchase fees?
- Other details Other details
Note: The black dot indicates the answer is yes or the feature is available.
*PIN defined as a cardholder-created security code needed to conduct a transaction involving a card, whether it's checking a balance, making a purchase or something else. It does not include PINs that are found on the back of a card.
**Free shipping/delivery is only for physical cards. Being able to send an e-card for free doesn't qualify.
Source: Survey conducted by Bankrate.com from late September through early October 2012.
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