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Gift cards: the naughty and nice list this Christmas

Gift cards: the naughty and nice list this Christmas

RateCity.com.au has today revealed its annual ‘naughty and nice’ gift card list, with nearly one in three Australians estimated to buy gift cards this Christmas. 

A RateCity.com.au survey found people buying gift cards last Christmas spent an average of $367. Interestingly, women bought more gift cards than men, however, men spent more than women on average. 

Despite strict legislation introduced in 2019, requiring gift cards to have a minimum expiry date of three years, with the date clearly written on it, and banning post-purchase fees, RateCity is warning shoppers they could still get caught out.

The nice list:

  • Bunnings has no expiry date and will give you your balance in change if it’s below $10.
  • JB Hi-Fi has no expiry, free delivery on physical gift cards and choose your own denomination. 

The not-so-nice list:

The worst offenders are typically the gift cards that are pre-loaded with money.

  • giftcardstore.com.au fees can climb as high as $21.66 for a $500 gift card.
  • Australia Post Mastercard and Westfield card fees range up to $5.95, depending on where you purchase them.
  • Coles gift cards cannot be redeemed online. 

Cards on special 

An increasing number of gift cards can be bought at a discount from banks, insurance providers and shopping sites. Before purchasing them, check for hidden fees to make sure you’re getting a genuine discount.

  • Macquarie Bank customers can get between 1% and 10% off gift cards from a range of stores. 
  • NRMA offers members between 3% and 10% off gift cards from major brands.
  • Zip customers can get 3% cashback on the Zip Christmas gift cards.

RateCity.com.au research director, Sally Tindall, said: “Gift cards are an easy, last-minute present, particularly for people who are tricky to buy for.”

“This Christmas there’s no shortage of gift cards on the market; from something as simple as a supermarket voucher, to something as luxurious as a trip to the day spa, or a card that gives recipients a range of stores to choose from. Even buy now, pay later providers such as Afterpay and Zip are getting in on the gift card action,” she said.

“While short expiry dates and post-purchase fees are largely a thing of the past, people should still be on their toes when buying gift cards.

“Before you hit the ‘buy now’ button, check for hidden fees and read the terms and conditions to make sure the card suits the person you’re shopping for.

“If you’re lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a gift card, keep it in a safe place and diarise the expiry date if there is one.

“If you’ve bought what you want and have a few dollars remaining on your gift card, ask the store if they will give you the change, or consider giving it another shopper in the queue – that way you can avoid wasting money,” she said.

Tips for people buying gift cards this Christmas

  • Check the expiry to make sure it’s written on the card and lasts for at least three years.
  • Read the terms and conditions to make sure it’s easy to redeem. 
  • Check for hidden fees and if there are any, shop around for a fee-free alternative.

Tips for people receiving gift cards this Christmas

  • Don’t spend extra unnecessarily, just to get your balance down to zero. If your balance is under $10, ask for it back in change.
  • If the store doesn’t give change and you have a few dollars on the card, think about paying it forward to the person next to you in the queue.
  • If you have an expired card, try your luck – see if the store will still honour it.

RateCity gift card list

CompanyThe detailsFees
Home and hardware
BunningsUnlimited expiry. Change given below $9.95. Gift cards can be personalised with a photo.Postage $2.60 for physical cards (e-gift cards are free).
IKEA3 years expiry. Choose any value up to $1,000 to add to the gift card. Can be used overseas. None. Pick up physical cards in store. e-gift cards currently not available.
The Good GuysUnlimited expiry. For any value between $20 and $500.$0.50 for sms delivery. e-gift cards are free via email or pick up physical cards in store.
Tech
Apple Unlimited expiry. For all Apple products, apps, music, etc. For any value between $10 and $3,000.None. e-gift cards are free via email or pick up physical cards in store. 
Google Play5 years expiry. Requires a google payment account to redeem. None
JB Hi-FiUnlimited expiry. For any value between $10 and $500. None
Department and retail stores
Big WUnlimited expiry. For any value between $5 and $500.Postage $5.50 for physical cards (e-gift cards are free)
Cotton OnUnlimited expiry. Available to redeem at multiple stores. PayPal Pay in 4 available to buy gift cardPostage $7 ($0 if value is $60 or over, e-gift cards are free).
David Jones3 years expiry. For any value between $5 and $500 for e-gift cards, and between $5 and $1,000 for physical cards. Not available to redeem at Sephora in any David Jones store.None. e-gift cards are free or pick up physical cards in store.
Jay Jays3 years expiry. For any value between $20 and $250.Postage $3.99 (e-gift cards are free).
Just Jeans3 years expiry. For any value between $20 and $250.Postage $3.99 (e-gift cards are free).
Kmart4 years expiry. For any value between $10 and $500. Postage $5.50 (e-gift cards are free).
Myer 3 years expiry. For any value between $5 and $500. Postage $4.95 (e-gift cards are free).
Peter Alexander3 years expiry. For values from $20 and $500. Postage $3.99 (e-gift cards are free).
Portmans3 years expiry. For values from $20 and $250. Postage $3.99 (e-gift cards are free).
Smiggle3 years expiry. For values from $20 and $250. Postage $3.99 (e-gift cards are free).
Sportsgirl3 years expiry. Afterpay available. Not available to redeem online.Postage is $5 for gift cards up to $50, and free express postage above $50. 
Sussan3 years expiry. Afterpay available. Not available to redeem online.Postage is $5 for gift cards up to $50, and free express postage above $50. 
Target 4 years expiry. For any value between $10 and $500. Postage $5.50 (e-gift cards are free).
AmazonUnlimited expiry. For any value between $1 and $2,000.None. e-gift cards are free or pick up physical cards at Australia Post.
Afterpay3 years expiry. For values between $10 and $200. Afterpay available. Redeemable with 80+ brands by swapping the card with multiple retailer cards until the full amount is spent. Once swapped, expiry and T&Cs apply to the new retailer.None. However, once swapped into new retailer card, fees may apply.
Zip Christmas gift card3 years expiry. Reedemable on 130+ brands. It can be swapped into multiple retailer cards of choice, until the full amount is spent. Once swapped, expiry and T&Cs apply to the new retailer. Must have a Zip Pay or Zip Money account to purchase.None. However, once swapped into new retailer card, fees may apply.
Food, groceries and alcohol
AldiUnlimited expiry. Can only be purchased and redeemed in store.None. Only available to purchase in store.
Coles4 years expiry. Can't be redeemed at Coles Online, Coles Express or Liquorland. Postage $5.50, e-gift cards free.
WoolworthsUnlimited expiry. For any value between $5 and $500. Postage $5.50, e-gift cards free.
Hello FreshE-gift cards are free online and available for values of $80, $110, $130 and $170. Fees may apply once ordering food for delivery.
Youfoodz3 years expiry. Not available to redeem in all regions. Afterpay available.None. E-gift cards only. 
However, $7.50 delivery fee applies once ordering food for delivery.
Dan Murphy'sUnlimited expiry. For any value between $5 and $500. Postage $5.50, e-gift cards free.
Money
Westfield3 years expiry. High fees. Must have a device that supports Apple Pay or Google Pay to receive a digital gift card.$2.95 service fee (plus $2.95 delivery fee for physical cards) or $5.95 purchase fee at some outlets.
Aus Post Mastercard gift card3 years expiry. High fees. Load value on each card between $20 and $500.$5.95 purchase fee.
Giftcardstore.com.au3 years expiry. High fees. Prepaid Visa and Mastercard. Activate in 3 months or card may be cancelled. $9.05 postage and handling, $2.28 credit card service fee, $1.13 GST 
Coles gift Mastercard 3 years expiry. In store only.$5.00 purchase fee.
Travel
Flight Centre3 years expiry. High postage fee. For any value between $20 and $2,000. Postage $7.50 (e-gift cards are free).
Qantas3 years expiry. Can be transferred to any name. 
A service fee applies to redemptions through Qantas Telephone Sales. 
No purchase or postage fee. Booking fees apply - $45 per passenger per booking on domestic fares.
Entertainment
EB GamesUnlimited expiry. Can be redeemed in stores across Australia and New Zealand. Free delivery on e-gift cards. 
Event Cinema 3 years expiry. Booking fees may apply. For any value between $20 and $500. Postage $9 (e-gift cards are free).
Hoyts3 years expiry. Can be redeemed for movie tickets, LUX tickets, bar items, candy bar items and even merchandise.Postage $9 (e-gift cards are free).
Village Cinema e-gift cards are free online. Physical gift cards available from Australia Post with free delivery.3 years expiry.
NetflixUnlimited expiry. Can be bought from a variety of stores including Woolworths, Coles and Big W or online. Can be added to existing Netflix subscriptions or used on a new one.None 
Stan3 years expiry. Can be bought online at Stan. The entire value of the gift card will be applied on redemption.None
Spotify3 years for physical cards. Recipient can receive gift card via email or SMS, or buy physical gift cards from Australia Post. 
Not redeemable on Spotify family plans.
None
PlayStation StoreUnlimited expiry. Can be bought from a variety of stores including Officeworks, JB Hi-Fi or online. Can be added to existing PlayStation subscriptions or used on a new one.None
Other
Endota Spa3 years expiry. High postage fees. Cancellations within 24 hours of appointment may result in a cancellation fee being charged. Sunday treatments may include a surcharge. Postage up to $10 (e-gift cards are free).
Ultimate Gift Card for Him / HER / KIDS3 years expiry. Can be used at multiple stores and online. Can be added to mobile wallet. For any value between $5 and $1,000. Standard postage is free when purchased via Australia Post, express post = $7.95, pick up for no extra charge at major supermarkets.
The HIM, HER, ACTIVE, TEEN, BABY cards3 years expiry. Can only redeem online at some retailers. $0.30 processing fee, standard postage is free, express postage is $7.95, pick up for no extra charge at Woolworths.

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This article was reviewed by Research Director Sally Tindall before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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