Gift Cards' Fine Print Could Burn Hole In Your Wallet - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/03/07-Tyler

Gift Cards' Fine Print Could Burn Hole In Your Wallet

They're now the favorite for the last minute gift giver: those colorful gift cards that are in every store.

You can say a lot of things to explain giving a gift card.

"I really don't know what to get you," or, "You didn't tell me what you wanted to get," or "I was just running late," but the cards themselves have a lot to say.

Some say much more than others with copious amounts of fine print.

"In this agreement, the terms 'we, us, and our' mean 'the bank', and 'you' and 'your' means anyone who has received the gift card," Kay Robinson recites.  She's president of the Better Business Bureau of Central East Texas and was reading through a laundry list of rules on one gift debit card.

She says those who get gift cards have to go through the fine print fully, painful as it is.

"It's your responsibility to know what the policy is," she said.

Stores, malls, and banks are issuing reloadable Visa debit cards.  Many of the debit cards have expiration dates -- sometimes just months after purchase.  And up-front fees are some times due the moment they're bought.

"The business has the right to set their own policy for just about every transaction. That's what we tell people all the time," she said.

A gift card to a store is one thing, but if you're going to give someone a debit card with all these fees attached, the question is: why not just give cash?

"I don't know it just seems so impersonal," Robinson said.

But be careful. Maybe money will burn a hole in someone's pocket, but it's easier then ever to be burned by fine print.  

There are some cards that have few conditions, and some without fees that never expire.  Look for that Tuesday night at 6pm on KLTV 7 News.

Morgan Palmer, Reporting morganpalmer@kltv.com

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