Gift cards are a very convenient and popular present to buy at this time of year, however the Queensland Consumers Association advises buyers to choose ones that are likely to be useful to the receiver and with fair terms and conditions.
Association spokesperson, Ian Jarratt, says many people think that gift cards are like cash, but they are not. Often gift cards often can only be used at certain places and only for some types of transactions, and may have complex terms and conditions, including expiry dates.
People thinking of buying gift cards as presents should make sure that the card will suit the recipient, for example that it can be used anywhere, or at a store or group of stores or for a product/service relevant to the recipient. They are also advised to check that the terms and conditions are fair and will not be unduly restrictive on the receiver, for example: minimum spends, no change given, not usable online.
Keep an eye out also for short expiry dates even though these are less of an issue now due to NSW and South Australia having introduced minimum 3 year expiry requirements for many types of cards, and some cards not having any expiry date.
In some situations cash may be a better gift because it can be spent anywhere, does not expire, or come with any terms and conditions.