Most popular retail gift cards can be used just like cash

    Oklahoma business Q&A with Rebekka Rea, executive director of the Retail Gift Card Association

     Published: January 5, 2012

    Q&A with Rebekka Rea

    Rebekka Rea, executive director for the Retail Gift Card Association, headquartered in Oklahoma City. – PROVIDEDMost popular retail gift cards can be used just like cash

    Q: Gift cards are a very popular holiday gift. When are most gift cards spent?

    A: It varies by the individual. However, data has shown that most recipients redeem gift cards within 60 days of receipt. Despite the sensational gift card headlines that occur at this time of the year, consumers love gift cards and retailers want you to spend them. Gift cards stimulate the economy and help shoppers extend their budget on aspirational items as well as necessities. This year, Gift Card Impressions launched a new shopping holiday called “Gift Card Weekend.” Consumers can go to the website www.giftcardweekend.com, register gift cards they received and receive special incentives and offers on many of their favorite brands. Gift Card Weekend (this weekend) reminds consumers to use their gift cards and rewards them for doing so quickly.

    Q: Do you have any tips on using gift cards, such as avoiding theft and not letting them expire?

    A: Retail branded gift cards, also known as closed loop, do not have expiration dates. You can redeem them tomorrow or years from now — but why wait? Quite simply: use the gift cards! Gift cards store monetary value and are treated like cash if lost or stolen. If you buy or receive a gift card ask for the receipt in case of a lost card or a balance discrepancy. Many retailers also offer registrations on their website for gift cards, which is another good practice to make a habit.

    Q: What else do people need to know?

    A: Gift cards are not fragile items that need to be wrapped up and stored for later use. They are popular, safe, convenient and allow the recipient to choose an item they would really like. There is nothing scary about buying or redeeming gift cards. Just use good judgment and be accountable. Treat gift cards like you would cash, register the gift cards when possible and have fun redeeming them. Members of the Retail Gift Card Association (www.theRGCA.org) abide by a code of principles which provides consumer-friendly gift card policies for consumers. You can always confidently buy gift cards from any of our members’ brands.

    JENNIFER PALMER, BUSINESS WRITER