Bankrate's 2012 Gift Cards Survey results

November 12, 2012

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?
  • PIN?PIN?*
  • 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.

  • 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?
  • PIN?PIN?*
  • 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.

General purpose cards Money loading limits Expiration date? Dormancy or maintenance fees? Card and/or funds replaced after loss or theft? PIN? Reloadable? E-card available Online balance check? Free shipping/delivery? Purchase fees? 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.



More From Bankrate.com