Gift Cards: How To Make Sure You Get Your Money’s Worth

And then there’s the scams where people get a card that has been drained.

To get your moneys worth, you may want to adopt techniques like savvy shopper Nikki Humphries.

For one, here’s how she protects against scams.

“I try to pick the cards up that are more towards the back, not up front just because I have seen the warnings, I’ve seen the scams, and I just don’t want to be victim to that.”

That’s because scammers who use card readers to steal information off the magnetic strip, put the card or cards back on the front of the rack and wait for you to activate it.

So what do you do if you get a gift card with a zero balance. If have the gift receipt, you’re in luck. Otherwise, try to go back to the store where it was purchased to get a refund. Often retails can track down where the card was activated and used.

Even more common than getting scammed is losing or not using your cards. In 2014 $750 million went unredeemed. Again, Humphries found a solution.

“I got a whole bunch of starbucks gift cards and I didn’t want to have to keep up with them so I loaded them all onto that mobile app and that way I didn’t have to worry about keeping up with them,” she said.

And now there are new broader card management apps like Gyft and Slide that let you digitally store all your cards on your smartphone, check balances and redeem them.

“I think that’s a great idea,” said shopper Karen Huminski. And she can sure use it. She’s been carrying around a separate wallet filled with the unusued plastic, which lets admit, is better than most who forget their gift cards at home.

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