Pros and cons of gift, pre­paid cards

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS -

Who doesn’t like money? The near-uni­ver­sal ap­peal of cash has made it a pop­u­lar gift for spe­cial oc­ca­sions since the Ly­di­ans minted the first coins in the 7th cen­tury B.C.

But cash isn’t with­out its draw­backs, notes Con­sumer Re­ports. If it’s lost, it’s gone for­ever. It’s also a gift that tends to be for­got­ten al­most as soon as it’s put into a wal­let.

Con­sumers who want to give cash for the hol­i­days should also con­sider gift cards and pre­paid cards. Here’s what Con­sumer Re­ports rec­om­mends con­sid­er­ing when de­cid­ing be­tween th­ese op­tions.

Gift cards

• Pros. In a word: con­ve­nience. Just grab mer­chant cards or pay­ment net­work cards (Amer­i­can Ex­press, Dis­cover, MasterCard and Visa) at a drug­store, re­tailer or su­per­mar­ket. They can also be pur­chased on­line and sent to you or your gif­tee by mail or email.

• Cons. Mer­chant cards can be used only at the walk-in or on­line store of the is­su­ing re­tailer. If the com­pany goes out of busi­ness, the re­cip­i­ent might not get the full value of the card, or it might be­come worth­less. And the mer­chant might not be a fa­vorite of your in­tended re­cip­i­ent.

• Se­cu­rity. Some is­suers won’t re­place a lost or stolen gift card, the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion says. Oth­ers will -- with proof of pur­chase and the card’s ID num-

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