03.Recommended gift cards
Of the gift cards we looked at, we recommend the following three:
- Bunnings gift card. This card does not expire and also allows you to receive a small amount of cash change (up to $9.95).
- Coles Group & Myer gift card
- Wish (Woolworths group) gift card
According to a survey by the University of Melbourne and Cardlimbo, about 20% of gift card recipients wouldn’t usually shop at their card’s store(s) and many let those cards expire unused. The advantage of the Coles and Woolies cards is that they allow you to buy everyday items such as groceries, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding somewhere to use them.
* Allows variable amounts such as $39.50; normally there is a minimum of $5 or $10 and an upper limit.
**A fee may apply.
(A) Valid at Myer, Target, Baby Target, Target Country, Kmart, Kmart Tyre & Auto, Coles, Coles Central, BI-LO, Pick’n’Pay Hypermarkets, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars, 1st Choice Liquor Superstore and Officeworks stores.
(B) Valid at Woolworths & Safeway Supermarkets, Woolworths & Safeway Liquor, BIG W, Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Thomas Dux Grocer, participating Dick Smith stores and participating Caltex fuel outlets.
(C) Red Balloon offers three types of vouchers: “experience vouchers” with six months expiry, “range vouchers” and gift certificates with 12 months expiry. Experience vouchers can be extended for $10 per month for a maximum of three months; if the voucher has expired it can be extended for one month for $30 within 30 days.
(D) Not accepted by all stores in a Westfield shopping centre – check www.westfield.com.au for details and look for the “W” icon next to the store name. None of the Coles group stores (except Kmart), Myer or Woolworths group stores accept it. $1.95 issue fee applies.
(E) $30 minimum.
(F) Grace period applies – usually one month.
(G) David Jones told us they will replace expired gift cards with a new one if it’s presented in-store; balance must be more than $5.
(H) The later of two years from the date of issuance or last activity on an iTunes Store account.
(J) Can be extended to 24 months; JB Hi-Fi told us they will honour expired gift cards.
(K) Gift cards purchased online only.
Case study: Westfield warning
Last year Joan* was presented with two Westfield gift cards to the total value of $1000, upon her retirement. She failed to use the full value of the cards within the required 12 months. “I was actually 7 days late when my card was rejected in a Westfield Shopping Centre. The value on the cards still remaining was $560. I have been through the process of applying to the Westfield Gift Card Team to have the card date extended, or the remaining value of the card refunded, but received a letter saying that my application has been denied.”
Joan says she is aware of retailers who have gift cards without an expiry date. "I wonder why it is necessary for Westfield to do so when the only people to lose are those who have given the gift in the first place? I strongly feel the consumer should be warned of the risks associated with such gifts.”
A Westfield spokesperson, Julia Clarke, said the 12-month validity of the company's gift cards is stated clearly on the back of cards, and in the terms and conditions available at all Westfield customer service desks and at www.westfield.com. “At times there may be extenuating circumstances in which an expiry period may be extended or reinstated, however it is not normal practice.”
* Name changed to protect identity.
The last word
Says CHOICE member Graham Brown: “The only gift voucher I will accept is one issued by the Australian Government,“ Graham says.” These gift vouchers have so many benefits – no fees, no restrictions on where or when you can use them and you can even use part of them and get change. The vouchers come in many useful denominations and combinations: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. The best feature is that they can be used anywhere in any way. Now when I am given an Australian government gift voucher, it goes with my own collection of vouchers in my wallet and can be quite useful at any time I choose.“