Experts tell how to get the most for your money with gift cards - WSMV Channel 4

Experts tell how to get the most for your money with gift cards

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The holidays are here and few gifts are as popular as gift cards. While the rules and regulations on gift cards have changed in recent years, there are still things consumers need to think about before stuffing every stocking with them.

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, or Card Act, was signed into law in 2009. While much of it deals with credit cards, it also has several protections in place for consumers with gift cards.

However, there are still some ways for retailers to tilt the table in their favor with hidden costs.

The Card Act limited expiration dates and fee dates. It ensures gift cards are good for at least five years, and the issuer can't charge fees unless the card has not been used for a full year.

If they start charging fees, those have to be clearly printed on the card.

But every time a customer swipes the card - to use it for a purchase or to check the balance - the issuer can charge them.

They can also charge if the cardholder requests a replacement card or even calls customer service.

The Better Business Bureau has advice for consumers to get the most for their money when it comes to their gift cards.

First, read the fine print and research the fees up front.

Avoid those online gift card auction sites, which make it virtually impossible to tell whether the cards have any value remaining or have already expired.

Make sure no one has tampered with the fraud protection stickers on the back of the card.

And if you decide to give a gift card, include the receipt. That may come in handy if the card is lost or stolen, or if there is a discrepancy with the balance.

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