Stored Value Cards

By: Paul Aker
By: Paul Aker

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When David Borchardt went shopping for presents at the mall, he like an increasing number of Americans chose to give plastic. Stores , malls even banks now issue cards sometimes called "Stored value cards" The number of users keeps shooting higher, up to 45 billion in sales this year alone. But there's often a catch, many cards carry extra costs traditional gift certificates don't. "They are trying to sneak in fees, so it's important for consumers to say hey, wait a minute, you can lose quite a bit before you spend it," consumer advocate Gail Hillebrand said.

Groups like the consumer union and the Better Business Bureau say no matter where you purchase a gift card watch out for:

  • Upfront service fees--They can be seven dollars or more.

  • Dormancy fees- an extra cost for not using cards during a certain period of time.

    Even with the fees, some bankers say the cards are worth the extra money. "You don't need a credit check once you run out of money on the card, that's it. You can throw it away," said Tracey Mills of the American Bankers Association.

    One other thing to consider is added cyber safety. Often times the cards can be used on the internet, so you don't have to send sensitive information like your credit card numbers. That limits your chances of becoming the victim of ID theft.

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