Gift Cards Keep On Giving

With fewer strings and fees attached now, gift cards are a more attractive option.

Your holiday shopping list just got simpler. New federal rules make the ever-popular gifts of last resort even more appealling -- and guilt-free. If you give a gift card now, you can be sure it won't expire for at least five years from the date of purchase. If the card expires and there's money left on it, a replacement card is free. Plus, your recipient can't be slapped with a dormancy fee unless he or she hasn't used the card for a year.

The new rules apply to retail cards as well as those with the American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa logos. They do not, however, apply to reloadable debit cards that are intended to substitute for a checking account, such as Visa's TravelMoney, MasterCard's Travel Card and cards aimed at teens, such as American Express's PASS card. Nor do the rules apply to cards that you receive as a reward for purchasing an item or as part of a promotion. Those cards may expire after one year.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

To continue reading this article
please register for free

This is different from signing in to your print subscription

Why am I seeing this? Find out more here

Senior Reporter, Kiplinger's Personal Finance