Best gift cards to buy for Christmas

Georgie Hay

Georgie Hay

( 4 min read )

RateCity top picks for gift cards

Company Expiry date Perks
Bunnings Unlimited Will give change when card goes below $9.95
Apple Unlimited
Netflix Unlimited
IKEA 3 years Can be used in 23 countries
JB Hi-Fi Unlimited Will honour expired gift cards
The Good Guys Unlimited Will honour expired gift cards

Beware the fine print

Company Expiry date Terms & conditions
Youfoodz 6 months Short expiry period
Ella Bache 6 months Short expiry period
Endota Spa 12 months Charges you $10 delivery fee for the card
Westfield 12 months Some retailers may choose not to accept the gift card
Sportsgirl 12 months 50% of value will be deducted for cancellations within 24 hours notice
Bing Lee Unlimited The gift card must be used in one transaction
Australia Post Visa Card 24 months $5.95 purchase fee (up to 10% of card value). $4 fee for balance enquiry by phone.
Myer 24 months Charges you $4.95 delivery fee for the card

Getting the most out of your gift card

  • Check expiry dates carefully. If they’re not clearly stated, contact the retailer, or keep a copy of the purchase receipt.
  • Check the fine print for any fees for posting or activating the card.
  • Treat your gift card like cash – retailers won’t honour lost or stolen cards.
  • If the retailer goes bankrupt, their gift cards may become unusable e.g. Dick Smith in 2016.
  • Spend the card’s full amount before the expiry date. Some retailers will transfer any remaining leftover balance to a new gift card.

Gift cards are one of the most popular presents to be found under the Christmas tree with around 34 million cards sold each year. However, despite the popularity, RateCity warns gift cards come with a number of hidden traps.

RateCity research has revealed the most common expiry date for a gift card is only 12 months, with some cards offering as little as three months to purchase your present.

Apple and Bunnings gift cards are some of the best on the market with no expiry date attached to the use of the card.  Clothing retailers such as Cue and H&M are also leading the way offering shoppers 36 months to purchase a present before the gift card officially expires.

RateCity money editor Sally Tindall said even though gift cards are one of the most convenient presents to buy, shoppers should always read the fine print.

“Gift cards are meant to operate just like cash, but in reality they come with pages of terms and conditions that often work in the retailers’ favour.

“Short expiry dates are the biggest offender, but shoppers also get caught out with postage and activation fees and conditions on where and how the money is spent.

“The other way shoppers end up forfeiting their cash, is by only spending part of the value of the gift card. Often the balance left behind is never spent, and when the card expires, retailers keep the difference.

Christmas online shopping top view. Female buyer with laptop, copy space on screen. Woman buys presents in internet with gold credit card, drinks coffee among gift boxes. Winter holidays sales

“While a couple of dollars here and there doesn’t sound like much, collectively, Australians spent $2.5 billion every year on gift cards. The Commonwealth Consumers Affairs Advisory Council estimated that up to 8 per cent of cards are never used, which equates to up to $200 million in ‘e-change’ that is lost by Australian consumers each year.

“It is also concerning some retailers are charging up to $10 to purchase a gift card and send it in the mail.  Not all retailers do this, so shop around, and make sure you are getting a good deal.

“We were pleased to hear the NSW government has finally stepped in, forcing retailers to put a three-year minimum on gift card expiry dates. Although, there is no firm date for the new law to be implemented, this is certainly a move in the right direction.

Now the pressure is on other states to follow suit.

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