During the holiday season gift cards are popular presents. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald reminds Iowa consumers to shop smart when it comes to gift cards. "According to the National Retail Federation, 8 in 10 shoppers will give a gift card this holiday season.* Nationally, shoppers will spend an average of $163 on gift cards, up 4% from last year," Fitzgerald said. "Each year, over a billion dollars in gift cards go unclaimed because cards are lost or forgotten.** Don’t let that happen to your gift. These tips can help you protect the value of the gift you give this season."

Tips for Gift Card Purchasers:

*Ask about expiration dates and fees. If the disclosures are too confusing you may want to avoid purchasing the gift card.

*Buy gift cards from reputable retailers and where you know will be convenient for the recipient to use.

*Give the original receipt and disclosure information to the recipient in the event it is needed to replace a lost or stolen gift card.

*Encourage the recipient to use the gift card right away.

"I plan to give some gift cards this year, but will always warn them to use it right away," Fitzgerald said. Even if there is an expiration date on a gift card, retailers are required to honor all of the gift cards they sell for five years.

Consumers with questions or concerns regarding an expired gift card that a retailer will not honor 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@iowa.gov.