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Last Minute Shoppers: If You Are Thinking of Gift Cards, Avoid Vanilla Visa

vanilla visa, gift card, last minute shopping

Will your gift card work?

Is there a person who you can’t think of what to get this Christmas and have put it off to the last minute? I’ve done that before, thinking the ideal gift would dawn on me one day while on the subway or in the shower. But with just three days left till Christmas, time is running out.

Two years ago, I had no clue what to get for a distant teen relative that I hadn’t seen in a while. Not knowing his likes or dislikes but wanting to give him something on Christmas, I got him a gift card. Since I waited till the last minute, I purchased it in a big name pharmacy and went on my way. I didn’t keep the receipt

A few days later, I found out that the card was completely useless because it hadn’t been properly activated during checkout. Unable to locate the receipt, I was out of luck and even worse, so was my nephew who could not use the gift I thought I had given him.

Sometimes running out and getting a gift card seems an appropriate compromise for the family teen that has been out of touch, and they also make great stocking stuffers for your own kids, but make sure you are certain that the gift card will actually work. Experts are warning consumers to steer clear of the Vanilla Visa and others like it. When a consumer goes to use them, they are getting rejected more often.

According to Professor Robert Manning of the Rochester Institute of Technology and a leading expert on credit cards, you need extra protection. “These new cards do not have the same protection that a Visa debit or credit card has,” says Manning. “If you’ve got a damaged product and you want to return it to the merchant, where Visa would immediately credit your account, you’re not going to have that protection with these gift cards,” says Manning.

Since cash is one of the top gifts on everyone’s list this year, experts recommend either giving cash or if you are uncomfortable with having cash lying around, write a check. It might seem less “gift-like” and perhaps impersonal, but in the end, it’s the safest solution for last minute shoppers. Then that special someone can go out and buy exactly what they like – with no mishaps.

Image: Flickr: Campbelj45ca

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