Consumers should always be aware of the hidden costs of gift cards, including inactivity fees and expiration dates that may render the card worthless, according to a news release from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Details should be clearly disclosed on the card or packaging and both givers and recipients need to read about each card to make sure they don’t miss out on a portion of the money on the card.


“Many of us look for the perfect gift for family and friends, and sometimes that is a gift card,” Rutledge said. “Gift cards allow recipients to select their own gift or go out to eat without the burden of spending their own money. But recipients also have a responsibility to make sure they keep track of the card and get the most out of the gift.”


Rutledge released the following tips for consumers who are planning to use a gift card:


• Read the card’s terms and conditions. Check for an expiration date or fees.


• If it appears that the value of your card has expired or that fees have been deducted, contact the card issuer. It may honor the card or reverse the fees.


• Ask the person giving you the card for the card’s terms and conditions, the original purchase receipt or the card’s ID number. Keep this information in a safe place.


• Use your card as soon as you can to avoid misplacing or forgetting about it.


• If your card is lost or stolen, report it to the issuer immediately. Some will not replace lost or stolen cards, but others will for a fee. Expect to show proof of purchase and the ID number on the card.


Meanwhile, when purchasing a gift card, buyers should use only trusted sources, consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant and keep the original receipt so the recipient can verify the card’s purchase if it is lost or stolen. If a recipient experiences problems with a gift card, contact the card issuer.


For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at 800-482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.