With one week left to shop, have you checked your list twice to ensure you’ve got your holiday shopping done?

If not, you may be in a hurry to buy some last-minute gifts, and gift cards might seem like a win-win! Not only do you not have to run around town, fighting crowds and trying to find the perfect gift, but your friends and family will be happy to pick up something they like. And these days there are gift cards for everything and every store. Gift card malls in grocery stores and retail shops make it even easier to get it all done in one stop.

Although gift cards are a great one-size-fits-all gift, there are still a few things to consider when buying them.

Your Better Business Bureau recommends the following:

Read the fine print. Search the card’s packaging and the card itself for terms and conditions. Check if there are service fees, inactive fees or limitations. Some gift cards only allow for “in-store only” purchases, making it useless for online shopping.

Check the expiration date. Look to see if the gift card has an expiration date. The Federal Trade Commission states that money on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was purchased.

Be cautious of online auction sites. The cards listed on these sites may be counterfeit or obtained illegally. If you’re considering buying a card on a gift card resale site, be very careful. It can be difficult to verify the amount on the card or see if it’s expired.

Examine the card and packaging. Thieves may tamper with gift cards to get the card’s PIN and then put it back on the shelf. After the card is purchased and validated, they drain the value before Santa makes his way down the chimney.

Keep the receipt. Attach the original receipt to the gift card. If a card is stolen, a replacement might be issued. If possible, register the gift card on the store’s website.

Start with trust. It’s important to buy from companies you know and trust. Visit bbb.org to see a business’ BBB Business Profile and find trustworthy BBB Accredited Businesses.

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