With the holiday season right around the corner, many shoppers are looking for the best gift options for family and friends.
Gift cards may seem like a simple solution, but El Paso's Better Business Bureau is warning that some gift cards could carry high fees making them far from a good deal.
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which took effect in 2010, established standards that give consumers additional protections when using gift cards.
The standards prohibit retailers from:
· setting expiration dates less than five years after the card is purchased; and
· charging dormancy, inactivity, and service fees unless the card has not been used for at least 12 months. If fees are charged after this period, the details of such fees must be clearly disclosed on the card.
These standards apply to store gift cards and general use prepaid cards, which are often branded by payment networks such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
BBB recommends the follow tips before buying a gift card:
- ·Research before you buy. Buy from a known and trusted source.
- Read the fine print. Fully understand how the card works, if there are any fees associated with buying or using the card and if any fees will be deducted from the card after it is purchased.
- Inspect the card before buying. Verify that protective stickers have not been removed and the PIN Number on the back of the card is not exposed. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.
- Provide receipt with gift card. Give the recipient of the gift card the original receipt in case the card is lost, stolen or there is a discrepancy with the balance.
Research businesses at www.bbb.org  to see a company's BBB Business Review.