Gift card tips

Posted by Kelsey Wheatcroft - email

(NBC) - Gift cards are hot items during the holiday season, and with the new rules that went into effect earlier this year, they're now easier to give and receive.

Gift cards are one of the easiest, and most popular ways to give during the holiday season.

In previous years, consumers lost billions of dollars in expired gift cards or inactivity fees simply because they were unaware of rules and restrictions.

Credit card protections that went into law earlier this year also added protections for gift cards.

According to those rules: gift cards can't expire for at least five years from the date of purchase or from the last time money was added to the card. If you don't use the card right away, inactivity fees that take a bite out of a balance, can't kick in for at least one year.

Gift cards need to come with a clear disclosure of expiration dates and an explanation of any fees.

If you receive a gift card this holiday season, take note of the issuer's terms and read the fine print.

Use it as soon as possible so you don't lose it or forget about it.

Treat it just like you would treat the cash in your wallet, some issuers won't replace lost or stolen cards, others will, for a fee.