The gift card industry might have been given a tidy up, but there’s still clear winners and losers among the bunch.
In November, national legislation close the loopholes on dodgy gift card tactics – laughably short expiry periods and teeny-tiny print for terms and conditions.
Now, all gift cards must be valid for a minimum of three years, with the date clearly visible, and sellers aren’t allowed to whack on post-purchase fees.
Bunnings was crowned the most generous with its gift card offering – there’s no expiry date, and you’ll get paid out in cash if your balance is below $10. (You can then use this cash to buy a snag in bread. You’re welcome.)
Anything pre-loaded with cash is usually a bit of a rip-off. Comparison site RateCity pointed to Coles and Australia Post’s Mastercard gift cards as prime examples.
Both can only be bought in their respective stores, and adhere to the slated three-year expiry guidelines – not a day more.
The Coles card costs $5, while the Australia Post one costs $5.95, then whatever money the buyer loads onto it.
It’s the expiry terms and bolted-on costs that separate the bad from the good gift cards, RateCity research director Sally Tindall said.
Ms Tindall said despite the new legislation, there were still ways a bad gift card could ruin Christmas.
“Admin fees, credit card fees, postage fees and conditions on how the money is spent are often lurking in the terms and conditions when you do a bit of digging,” she said in a release.
A lot of companies – here’s looking at you Sportsgirl and Sussan – will only accept gift cards to be used in-store. No online shopping for you.
RateCity’s top tips for not buying a lemon:
- Read the terms and conditions before you buy.
- If you have an expired card, ask the store to honour it.
- Don’t spend extra money, just for the sake of getting your balance down to zero – if your balance is under $10, ask for it back in change.
- If you have a few dollars on your card and you can’t get it in cash, pay it forward to someone else in the queue.