Bankrate's 2012 Gift Cards Survey results

Bankrate.com

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

    Money loading limits
  • Expiration date?

    Expiration date?

    Expiration date?
  • Dormancy or maintenance fees?

    Dormancy or maintenance fees?

    Dormancy or maintenance fees?
  • Card and/or funds replaced after loss or theft?

    Card and/or funds replaced after loss or theft?

    Card and/or funds replaced after loss/theft?
  • PIN?

    PIN?

    PIN?*
  • Reloadable?

    Reloadable?

    Reloadable?
  • E-card available

    E-card available

    E-card available?
  • Online balance check?

    Online balance check?

    Online balance check?
  • Free shipping/delivery?

    Free shipping / delivery?

    Free shipping/delivery?**
  • Purchase fees?

    Purchase fees?

    Purchase fees?
  • Other details

    Other details

    Other details

Note: The black dot indicates the answer is yes or the feature is available.

General purpose cards
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 or theft?

PIN?

PIN?

Reloadable?

Reloadable?

E-card available

E-card available

Online balance check?

Online balance check?

Free shipping/delivery?

Free shipping / delivery?

Purchase fees?

Purchase fees?

Other details

Other details

American Express$25-$3,000; the denomination availability varies depending on the card design; e-cards available from $25-$100
American Express
The purchase fee is $2.95 to $6.95 depending on the card purchased. The e-card purchase fee is $2.95.
BMO Harris Bank MasterCard$25-$3,000*
BMO Harris Bank MasterCard
To place more than $500 on one card, speak to a branch banker or manager. The dormancy fee is $3 per month after 12 consecutive months of nonuse. The card may only be purchased in the store. The purchase fee is $4 per card. For a replacement, a check is cut for remaining funds, minus a check issuance fee. The card number must be provided. Using a PIN is optional.
Discover$20-$500
Discover
The dormancy fee is $2.50 per month if unused for 12 months. The purchase fee is $3.95.
Fifth Third Bank MasterCard$25-$2,500
Fifth Third Bank MasterCard
Purchase fees vary depending on the amount loaded onto gift card. The card may only be purchased at a branch. There is a $10 replacement fee for certain cards.
  • Money loading limits

    Money loading limits

    Money loading limits
  • Expiration date?

    Expiration date?

    Expiration date?
  • Dormancy or maintenance fees?

    Dormancy or maintenance fees?

    Dormancy or maintenance fees?
  • Card and/or funds replaced after loss or theft?

    Card and/or funds replaced after loss or theft?

    Card and/or funds replaced after loss/theft?
  • PIN?

    PIN?

    PIN?*
  • Reloadable?

    Reloadable?

    Reloadable?
  • E-card available

    E-card available

    E-card available
  • Online balance check?

    Online balance check?

    Online balance check?
  • Free shipping/delivery?

    Free shipping / delivery?

    Free shipping/delivery?**
  • Purchase fees?

    Purchase fees?

    Purchase fees?
  • Other details

    Other details

    Other details

Note: The black dot indicates the answer is yes or the feature is available.

General purpose cards
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 or theft?

PIN?

PIN?

Reloadable?

Reloadable?

E-card available

E-card available

Online balance check?

Online balance check?

Free shipping/delivery?

Free shipping / delivery?

Purchase fees?

Purchase fees?

Other details

Other details

KeyBank MasterCard$25-$2,500
KeyBank MasterCard
For replacement, the funds are returned and the card is canceled. There is a $2.50 monthly fee charged against any unused balance on the card beginning 12 months after the date the card was issued or one month after the expiration date, whichever comes first. The fees include a $1 ATM withdrawal fee, a $0.25 ATM balance inquiry fee and a $9.95 refund processing fee. The card can only be purchased in stores. There is a $3.95 purchase fee.
Chase Visa$25-$500
Chase Visa
There is a $2.50 monthly fee after the first 12 calendar months following the date of purchase. The card is replaceable if it's registered. The purchase fee is $3.50 for gift cards purchased in branches. There are no purchase charges (except shipping) for cards ordered online.
U.S. Bank Visa$25-$500
U.S. Bank Visa
There is a $2.50 fee per month after 12 consecutive months of inactivity. The card is replaceable with a $15 fee. The purchase fee is $3.95 per card at a branch and $6.95 per card online.
Wells Fargo Visa$10-$500 at banks; $25-$500 online
Wells Fargo Visa
There is a $7.50 replacement fee and a $1.50 shipping and handling fee per card when ordered online. The purchase fee is $3.95 per card. For certain cards, after 12 months of nonuse a $2.50 fee will be charged monthly to the card until the card expires or balance reaches zero. For cards expiring June 2017 or later: The funds never expire, and a replacement card is issued at no charge. Using a PIN is optional.

*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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