Best (last minute) gift cards

It’s Christmas Eve and you still have a long list of must-dos to cover off before the big day tomorrow. The last thing you want to do is spend time shopping for overlooked presents, but you’ve just realised there is one gift for an important person that you have forgotten to buy.

Gift cards to the rescue! But how to make a gift card seem less like an afterthought?

Some recipients may sense that you didn’t bother to put the time and effort into choosing a meaningful prezzie for them, so you need to make your selection count.

According to consumer site Choice, you should choose a card with a long expiry date and, ideally, one that can be used at a number of outlets, such as a Coles & Myer group or a Wish Woolworths gift card. Better still, consider a gift card issued by a shopping centre that can be redeemed by a number of retailers.

If you are really unsure about where the recipient likes to shop, choose an EFTPOS or Visa/MasterCard gift card, as these can be used at almost any retailer.

Avoid gift cards that charge a fee for extending the expiry period or reinstating lost or stolen cards and ones whose balance cannot be easily checked instore, online or over the phone, Choice recommends.

“Look for a card that allows you to use it for an unlimited number of transactions until you’ve spent the whole amount. Minimum spend amounts can be an issue, especially if the retailer doesn’t give change, as there may be an amount left on the card that you can’t use,” the organisation says.

After taking all this into account, it is time to choose a card that will deliver a delightful gift or experience that you believe the recipient will treasure … in other words, put some thought into it.

Each year, tens of thousands of cards worth around $70 million remain unredeemed and expired.

From November 2019, expiry dates will be less of an issue as new legislation is enforced to make retailers offer a minimum redeemable period of three years. But for now, you might still be trapped with a short expiry date if you don’t pay attention.

If you have left it to the last minute, chances are the only places you will be able to have a selection of cards in one place will be at an Australia Post office, 7-Eleven or a supermarket.

According to comparison site RateCity.com.au, among the best gifts are ones offered by Bunnings, Apple, Netflix, IKEA, JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys.

Mostly, these cards do not come with an expiry date, and, if they do, these stores will honour expired cards.

However, don’t leave it until too late in the day to pop out for that last-minute gift … most retailers finish trading at or before 5pm on Christmas Eve. If you do miss this deadline, you may be able to purchase an electronic gift card on a retailer’s website.

What last minute gift ideas have you managed to produce? Do you have a favourite or least-liked gift card and if so what are they? What other tips do you have for gift card shopping?

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Written by Olga Galacho

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