Gift card issuers are working to keep these handy gift options at the top of everyone’s list this year by offering options with lower fees and greater security protections, according to a new report from Bankrate
Gift cards remain an extremely popular choice: 76% of Americans have given someone a gift card and 83% have received one, Bankrate found. The most popular value given is between $25 and $50.
With last year’s consumer data breaches still fresh in everyone’s minds, the industry wants to ensure that gift cards represent a safe and secure way to buy.
Gift cards are inherently safer than cards that connect to a checking account, or a revolving credit account. However, they do have a tendency to get lost.
Bankrate took a look at the latest offerings, and found that half of the gift cards surveyed now offer the ability to add a security code (up from 35% in 2014). This can help protect the balance on a lost or stolen card.
Also, 72% of the cards surveyed have some form of loss and theft protection. This is up from 68% in 2014. Bankrate said that e-cards are more likely to have this protection than traditional gift cards.
There are still “gotchas” when choosing gift cards, mainly in the form of fees. Bankrate found that all of the widely-held general-purpose it surveyed charge purchase fees ranging from $3.95 to $6.95.
However, only 4% of store-specific cards charge purchase fees.
And fees are dropping overall, with fewer cards charging them this year than last.
Overall, Bankrate found that:
- 67% of the cards are available as e-cards, up from 59% last year.
- Just 13% of cards have any kind of purchase fee – down from 17% last year.
- Only 8% of the cards have any kind of expiration. Some expiration dates only apply for the physical card, not the funds loaded to the card.
- So, if you’re choosing which cards to give this year, look for ones that have the security features mentioned, then shop for low- or no-fee options.