BOSTON (CBS) – Finding the perfect the gift for some folks on your list is hard. Maybe even impossible. And if they don’t like it often you have to return it!

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Cash always pleases. It certainly is quick, easy and never returned.

Stick it in an envelope or a fancy box and you are good to go. When my children were young every year for Christmas they each got a $50 bill from a bachelor uncle. And each Thanksgiving they would begin to fantasize about how they would spend that money when it arrived.

If you want to be a bit more creative, give a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant. But be sure it’s a restaurant that the recipient likes and not your favorite Mexican place.

Also some restaurants are offering a deal with gift cards. Buy $50 worth of gift cards and get another gift card worth $10 for yourself. Consider a gift card to a local Spa, hairdresser or nursery. Grocery stores and chain drugstores also sell gift cards.

Consumers spent about $30 billion on gift cards last year. Massachusetts law requires that gift cards and gift certificates be redeemable at full face value for up to seven years. Federal law only requires five years so be forewarned.

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A gift card issued by a national bank follows the federal law. They also may have hidden costs such an inactivity fee after six months of nonuse. You want to purchase store issued cards and stay away from the bank or mall issued cards.

If you are giving a gift card, be sure it’s for a store or service that the recipient will use.

And if you are not happy with a gift card you receive, I have found some resources for you. There are some sites on the web that allow the consumer to swap or sell their gift card. Here are just a few; SaveYa, Cardpool, CardCash, GiftCardGranny.


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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