Beware the hidden costs of gift cards

gift card
gift card

As we start to buy gifts for family and friends, we may decide to go the easy route and get a gift card. But think twice before you choose that route. New studies show gift cards are the most popular presents to give and receive, but the hidden costs may outweigh the convenience of the gift. Be sure you give and use these cards correctly.

"Gift cards are easy to give, but they are also easy to forget. If the card has a monthly fee or expiration date, these can become costly little pieces of plastic," Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards.com and author of The Credit Card Guidebook told me in an email interview. "Even though gift cards take the hassle out of holiday shopping, you want to use them wisely. It is important to know the terms of the card you are buying."