CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This year marks the 13th year in a row gift cards were the No. 1 purchase, above jewelry, clothing and electronics.
If you've encountered the issue where you go to use the gift card you just got and it doesn't work or doesn't have the balance you thought it did, you're not alone.
“It happens, especially if it’s an in-store purchase," Tom Bartholomy from the Charlotte Better Business Bureau said. "Some scammers get to them first, make purchases and still leave the card hanging there on the rack."
Here are a couple of hints as to what to do if this happens to you.
Keep the paperwork
The paperwork will prove the activation of the gift card and the amount added to it. You can also call that number on the back of the card, but it’s best to do this during business hours to avoid more frustration.
Credit or debit?
Sometimes there is a delay on how quickly the card can be redeemed. It can be maddening, but it’s designed to slow down fraud. Ask the giver of the gift card if it was purchased with a debit or credit. If so, the giver can help sort it out.
Now, what if you just don’t want that gift card? Gift card expert Shelley Hunter said you can sell it for cash, believe it or not.
A number of online retailers, such as Cardpool, Gift Card Granny or Raise.com are some of her favorite places to resell gift cards. Gift Card Granny will even shop your gift card around to see what the highest amount is you can get for it.
When selling a card, however, be aware you will probably receive somewhere in between 60% to 80% of the balance on the card.
“You can send the gift card number," Hunter explained about selling the gift cards online. "It’s that easy, so it could be just a matter of days."
On the flip side, be careful about using social media or Craigslist to sell for even money. If you go that route, meet in busy public spaces and put safety first. If you go the on-line route, be on a reputable site that has customer service, read reviews first.