Total Pageviews

Monday, November 12, 2012

Store-Branded Gift Cards Carry Fewer Fees

As the holiday season approaches, an analysis by Bankrate.com finds that store-branded gift cards charge fewer fees than the all-purpose cards offered by banks and credit-cards companies.

Bankrate's 2012 Gift Card Survey found that of the 55 widely held store-branded gift cards it reviewed, like those from Best Buy and Kohl's, just five charge a purchase fee. Meanwhile, all eight widely held cards issued by banks and card companies that recipients could use at any store that accepts card charged a purchase fee, ranging from $2.95 to $6.95.

“The key takeaway for consumers is that they're going to get the most value from store-branded gift cards,” said Janna Herron, a credit card analyst at Bankrate.com, in a statement. “The benefit of general-purpose cards offered by banks and credit card companies is that they can be used anywhere, but because of the fees, you would be better off giving cash.”

Three-fourths of the cards offered by banks and card c ompanies charge a maintenance or dormancy fee of up to $3 a month, if the card goes unused for at least 12 months. Just 2 percent of store-branded gift cards charge such fees.

About half of the gift cards surveyed can be reloaded. And two-thirds of gift-card issuers will replace the card and/or funds if the card is lost or stolen.

The vast majority of cards don't have an expiration date. The findings are based on a review of the cards between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13.

Will you give gift cards this holiday season?