Gift card caution

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is urging post Christmas shoppers to choose carefully when buying gift cards.

"Consumers spend as much as $2.6 million a year on gift cards and a fair proportion of those are bought in those last few frenetic days before Christmas," he said.

"You can make sure your money doesn't go to waste by checking the expiry date on the card and reading the card's terms and conditions. Make sure the value of the card is clearly displayed."

Mr Stowe also called on businesses to show some Christmas spirit throughout the year when honouring gift cards.

"Many businesses offer grace periods as a courtesy to their customers, but this is not universal practice," he said.

"If your business offers a grace period after a gift card expires, make sure this is applied consistently in store."

The commissioner urged gift card recipients to follow a few tips on getting the most out of a gift card.

"Set up an expiry date reminder so your gift card doesn't become a ghost of Christmas past," he said.

"And remember, gift cards can be hard to replace if lost or stolen, so treat the card as you would treat cash.

"Keep it safe and don't forget it's there."

More than 200 complaints about gift cards, gift vouchers or certificates were received by Fair Trading last year and most those involved disputes with businesses on how to redeem a card or difficulty in securing a replacement card when lost or stolen.

This Christmas NSW consumers will get an extra helping hand from Fair Trading, with the ShopSmart free app for iPhones and Androids.

The app provides a wealth of information, including safety tips for online shopping and online auctions, group buying deals, refunds, warranties and lay-by rights.

The app also enables users to store copies of receipts and set reminders for when their gift cards are due to expire.

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