Gift cards are handy tools for a lot of reasons whether you are buying one for yourself, family or friends. When you do not want to be tacky in offering just cash because you are at a loss for a gift, the gift card can be the right option. With a gift card you have chosen something that you know the person can use as they wish, but you have also put a bit of thought into it. Gift cards can be brand or usage specific meaning you could get a restaurant gift card, bookstore, music, or other type of gift card for your friend or family. Given the place it is used it shows you put a little more thought into the gift than just handing over cash.
One of the frequently asked questions about gift cards is if there is a time limit for using the gift card. This is not a simple question to answer, but it is possible to give you an idea of what you might find with most gift cards.
First, when you buy a gift card you are already giving the company money. For this reason you should expect the gift card to have a long term usage option. In the same respect you cannot expect the company to keep track of the record indefinitely. For example, asking the card to remain available for 10 years might be a little much given the millions of gift cards they may have out there.
Most companies like Barnes and Nobles, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Home Depot offer gift cards with an unlimited usage time. The best way to answer this question is before you purchase the gift card you are interested in ask the company what their rules are regarding the card. Employees will be able to tell you if the card has a specific usage time. If they cannot the back of the card may list restrictions such as ‘use within 12 months’. Visa, MasterCard, and most American Express cards will also have unlimited usage time.
Instead of worrying about the length of time a person may have to use the money you put on the card, you may want to worry about the company itself. Since 2007, there has been a lot to worry about with companies that offer gift cards. SunCoast as an example was a huge movie store. They were bought out by FYE.com. This merger created some questions as to whether gift cards and membership options would remain. When a company goes out of business and is not merged into another it means the gift card is obsolete if it was brand specific.
If you fear your family or friend may not use the card within a year or two and the brand company you purchase the card for is struggling in the current economic troubles you may want to go with a generic gift card to ensure they have the card as long as they want to.