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Buying the Best Gift Card for Mom…and You

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As Mother’s Day approaches, you’re probably wondering what to get the mom who may have everything. More than likely, gift cards have crossed your mind as the perfect solution.

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, recommends these tips to ensure the card you choose is, truly, the perfect present — for both of you:

Buying Gift Cards

  • Buy from sources you know and trust. Avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites, because the cards may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.
  • Read the fine print before you buy. Is there a fee to buy the card? If you buy a card by phone or online, are there shipping and handling fees? If you don't like the terms and conditions, buy elsewhere.
  • Inspect the card before you buy it. Verify that none of the protective stickers have been removed. Make sure that the codes on the back of the card haven't been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.

Using Gift Cards

  • Read the card and any 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 company that issued the card. They may still honor the card or reverse the fees.
  • Use your card as soon as you can. It's not unusual to misplace gift cards or forget you have them; using them early will help you get the full value.
  • Treat your card like cash. If your card is lost or stolen, report it to the issuer immediately. Some issuers will not replace cards that are lost or stolen, but other issuers will, for a fee.

And enjoy a great Mother’s Day with the special moms in your life!


Great advice, Lisa. I'd add there is a lot more than just fees to watch out for when buying a gift cards. For example, it's important to avoid buying gift cards from merchant in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Also, be sure to check for redemption restrictions, balance inquiry options and full disclosure of terms and policies.

For consumers looking for help in understanding which gift cards are most/least consumer friendly,

Gift cards are somewhat impersonal.... my wife looks at it as cheating.

Make sure that your Mom can use the card at a place she is likely to shop. Some have a lot of restrictions!
Happy Mother's Day for all Mothers and their children!

That was so sweet.

I won a virtual mastercard in a sweepstakes and I used it to buy fast food gift certificates from The Taco Bell gift card I received had a 0 balance and when I checked at the Taco Bell site it said the money was added on May 01 and then it showed the money deducted 2 minutes later. Walmart refuses to do anything, anyone know if there is anything I can do?

My daughter gave me a Walmart gift card ($50) for Xmas--purchased I assume in Reno. I live in Hawaii and it was declined when I tried to use it at a restaurant. I tried to register it on-line and the system didn't recognize it. I then took the card to our local Walmart to see if they could solve they problem..
They couldn't and they, like me, couldn't get a real person to talk to at 866-633-9096 which is the number on the card to call and they said their store didn't deal in these cards.. I do not recommend purchasing a gift card. It would appear that the only way you can contact Walmart about it is to write them via snail mail. No e-mail address is given on their website: and as I said the phone number is useless. Beware!

Do NOT buy Visa Gift cards from They charge an activation fee but the card isn't activated. I am now 5 days into this and am told it will take another 5 days to activate this card. I will never shop at or Walmart again. It's time people stood up to them for the horrible customer service or should I say lack of customer service.

I would add a practical advice of getting familiar with the pricing of a store before you get a gift card. It actually happened to me several times that I received an overly ambitious gift card that could barely cover for the store's most basic items.

I want gift credit card debt consolidation loans

What if I purchased a gift card by a merchant that was all ready redeemed by the time I even bought. What's my rights

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