Gift cards top many holiday wish lists and State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald wants Iowa consumers to protect the value of those cards by following a few basic tips. 

“Each year, gift cards go unused because the cards are lost or forgotten,” Fitzgerald said. “Nobody can afford to let money go to waste.”

Whether you give or receive a gift card, these tips can help protect the value of the card throughout the year:

ν Buy a gift card from a known and trusted source.

ν Ensure the card is valid. Make sure none of the protective stickers have been removed or codes on the back of the card have been scratched off.

ν Include the original receipt and disclosure information with the card when given to the recipient. This is helpful if the card is lost or stolen.

ν Verify if the card has an expiration date or fees that reduce the card’s value over time.

ν Use the card as soon as possible

Holding gift cards too long increases the odds they will never be used. Using a gift card promptly reduces the likelihood it will be lost, stolen or reduced in value. 

About 10 percent of money spent nationally on gift cards goes unredeemed, Fitzgerald added. 

Consumers with questions or concerns regarding an expired gift card not being honored by a retailer are encouraged to contact the state treasurer’s office. Please provide a copy of the gift card and a brief letter stating the circumstances. The information can be sent to the address below or emailed to upreport@tos.iowa.gov.