Fewer ugly gift card surprises, thanks to consumer activists...and the FTC

Ever held onto that gift card for a few months, waiting for the perfect time to use it, only to find at the check out counter that it had expired a week ago? Or that it had hidden fees attached? Or that you could only use it at certain branches?

That's a holiday surprise not as likely to happen this year, thanks to some key rulings by the Federal Trade Commission and several states that have decide to regulate their use, according to the Washington Post.

The National Retail Federation is predicting a jolly holiday season for the gift card industry, with sales reaching $26.3 billion, up from $24.8 billion last year. The average consumer will spend about $122.59 on gift cards this year, compared with $116.51 last year, the federation said.