(Long Island, N.Y.) I love giving gift cards. They’re so perfect for those “hmm what the heck would they want” gift recipients on your holiday shopping list. Why? Because I love getting them. I collect my stash of gift cards in my wallet and I really do think about the person who gave it to me when I proudly hand it off to the cashier. For the holidays, it’s often a win-win situation. Buying a gift card is simple and you don’t have to wonder if you’re gift will be used or, um regifted. Best of all, it’s something that will come handy once the holidays are over and everyone’s short on cash.
If you’re planning to go with some gift cards this year, you’re not alone: According to Research and advisory firm, TowerGroup, combined gift card sales in the U.S. will exceed US$80 billion in 2006 — a more than 20% increase over their 2005 level–$29 billion in retail alone.
They’re quick and easy, but not so fast….
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is warning consumers to check the terms and conditions carefully that apply to gift cards they buy or receive. They suggest consumers to make sure they have received disclosures on some of the important terms and conditions of the gift card they purchase, such as:
- The fees, if any, that apply to the gift card, including those that apply after the sale and reduce the value of the card
- The expiration date of the gift card
- The procedures to follow in the event a card is lost or stolen
- The locations at which the gift card can be used
- The procedures to follow in the event there are problems with the gift card
Now for some cool gift card ideas
For the hard-to-buy-for teen: Cingular offers a wide selection of ringtones ranging from alternative, classic rock, hip hop, R&B, pop, Latin, country tunes and more. Tone Cards are available in two increments at Cingular Wireless company-owned retail locations ($9.99 for four ringtones or graphics–$19.99 for eight ringtones or graphics) check it out: http://www.cingular.com/mediamall.
For the caffeine-junkie: Hey, why not give someone a coffee break? Starbucks Gift cards are an awesome way to perk up–anyone! And best of all, they’re really festive. Take a look: http://www.starbucks.com/card/purchasecard.asp
For the theatre-lover: Ticketmaster Gift Cards are available in denominations ranging from $25 to $250 and have no expiration date. Multiple Gift Cards may be redeemed toward a single purchase.To purchase Ticketmaster Gift Cards online and for additional information, please visit: http://www.ticketmaster.com/giftcards.
For the book-fanatic Yeah, there’s plenty of book lovers out there. (I’m one of them). But it’s really hard to buy a book for someone. How do you know if they already read it? Borders gift cards make a great gift for anyone really. They’ve got music and movies, too. Buy then here: http://giftcards.borders.com
For the adventure-seeker Now this is a really cool idea: A one-stop shopping site where you can get gadgets, telescopes, electronics and much more. According to the Discovery Channel store, “you can buy and redeem gift cards through DiscoveryStore.com, the Discovery Channel Catalog and Discovery Channel Stores or email an electronic gift certificate to a friend – your choice! “Cards and e-mail certificates are available in $5 increments of $25 or more and are not redeemable for cash. Discover it for yourself: http://shopping.discovery.com/category-1_GIFTCERT.html?topnav=gf-giftcards
For the beauty-product princess (or prince): Sephora has an incredible array of cosmetics, perfumes, luxury bath items. With brands like, Bliss, Benefit, Marc Jacobs and Philosophy, how can you go wrong? The Sephora Gift Card comes in a sleek, Swarovski crystal-adorned, dual-mirrored compact embossed with the Sephora logo, is available in denominations of $25 to $250 and can be redeemed in store, online, or through any of our catalogs. Go to: http://www.sephora.com/browse/product.jhtml?id=P37590&categoryId=B55&SubId=GCard
Feeling generous? American Airlines is making it easier and more convenient to give the perfect gift this holiday season or at any time of year. The American Airlines gift card is now available in any denomination between $50 and $1,500 when purchased on American’s Web site .Previously, American Airlines gift cards were sold in denominations of $50 or $100. Now, however, American is offering gift-givers who purchase gift cards through AA.com more choices by allowing them to choose any amount they wish to give (between $50 and $1,500), as well as how they want to give it — either as a traditional plastic gift card or a virtual gift card sent electronically. Visit http://www.aa.com/giftcard for more details.
Feeling VERY generous? The Four Seasons Gift Card is easy to purchase at www.fourseasons.com/giftcard In just a few moments, a recipient is identified, a dollar amount of $100, $250, $500, $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 is chosen, and a personal message composed.* Gift Cards at all values up to $100,000 are available for purchase in person, at Four Seasons properties around the world.
Still unsure? This site, CharityGiftCertificates.org is really amazing. The name says it all. You can learn all about it at: http://www.charitygiftcertificates.org