Team 10 explains hidden gift card rules, how they may impact consumers this Holiday season

Some gift cards may have dormancy fees

SAN DIEGO - According to the National Retail Federation, 81 percent of shoppers will skip the mall madness and give a gift card this year.

Shoe store employee, Aloysius Nnadozie, pushes his customers at Sheik to buy them.

"This is best thing to get somebody when you don't know what they want," said Nnadozie from the downtown San Diego location.

Research shows there's a chance someone won't use it.

Plastic Jungle, a California based gift card selling company, reports the average American home has $300 in unused gift cards.

Shopper Shar Paur told Team 10 her gift card sat on her dresser for years.

"Not that I don't appreciate them but they just kind of get forgotten," said Paur.

When she eventually went to use her Visa gift card, she said money had been deducted from her balance.

"You think you have $25 on there and it's only $20 -- it's a little disappointing," said Paur.

Tricia Pummil of the San Diego City Attorney's Office said that is one thing to keep in mind when buying a "general use" card.

A general use gift card is attached to credit card companies such as American Express or Visa.

They can't expire for five years but money can be taken out if you don't use it for a year.

"Then they can start taking dormancy fees out of the amount," said Pummil.

Your next option is a card for a group of stores.

For example, you could buy a gift card good for all the stores inside a certain mall.

This type of card also expires in five years. The clock starts after you first use it.

"The idea is that these cards are kept alive as long as possible," said Pummil.

Your third option is a gift card for one store like Walmart or Target.

Pummil told Team 10 there is no expiration date, no dormancy fee and if the value falls below $10, you can get the balance in cash.

Pummil believes that last option, buying a card for one store, gives you the consumer the most protection.

Giving a gift card is a pretty safe bet -- 60 percent of shoppers surveyed by the NRF said they would like to get a gift card this year.

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