Not All Gift Cards Created Equal: 10 Gift Cards To Buy, 5 Gift Cards To Avoid During The 2010 Holiday Season

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According to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation, gift cards top the list of the most desired gifts for the 2010 holiday season with 57% of respondents putting gift cards on their wish list. Utilizing Gift Card Score®, ScripSmart has announced 10 gift cards to buy and 5 gift cards to avoid during the 2010 Holiday Season.

Gift Card Score Key

Gift Card Score Key

Even with the new federal gift card laws now in effect, consumers must still be mindful of gift card terms and store policies before making a purchase.

ScripSmart (http://scripsmart.com), a service for consumers and their gift cards, utilized Gift Card Score® to determine the most consumer friendly national gift card programs available. ScripSmart's Gift Card Score is designed to help shoppers easily find and support the best gift cards. The company named 10 gift cards to buy and 5 gift cards to avoid for the 2010 holiday season.

Recently effective federal gift card laws prohibit funds from expiring within 5 years of purchase and post-sale fees may no be charged unless the gift card has been inactive for 12 consecutive months. ScripSmart founder, Judd Lillestrand, says: "Even with the new federal gift card laws now in effect, consumers must still be mindful of gift card terms and store policies before making a purchase. A great gift card is much more than just no fees, no expiration. Furthermore, federal gift card laws do not protect gift card holders when a company files for bankruptcy protection and eventually goes out of business."

10 Gift Cards To Buy

Best Gift Cards (Traditional/Plastic):

    1. The Container Score - Gift Card Score 99
    2. The Gap Gift Card - Gift Card Score 97
    3. American Eagle Outfitters - Gift Card Score 97

All three gift cards in the traditional/plastic category cover the bases: no expiration, no post-sale fee, a reasonable replacement policy, clear disclosure of terms, policies, and they're redeemable both in-store and online. The Container Store Gift Card took the top spot in part because it is refundable at anytime with the original purchase receipt and gift card.

Best eGift Cards (Electronic/Email):

    4. Kmart eGift Card - Gift Card Score 97
    5. William-Sonoma eGift Card - Gift Card Score 96
    6. Bloomingdales eGift Card - Gift Card Score 94

All three egift cards in the electronic/email category cover the basics of no expiration, no post-sale fee, a reasonable replacement policy, clear disclosure of terms and policies and redeemable both in-store and online. The Kmart eGift Card is also redeemable at any Land's End or Sears. Similarly, the Williams-Sonoma eGift Card is redeemable at other Williams-Sonoma brands such as Pottery Barn and West Elm.

Best Bank-issued Gift Cards (Visa/MasterCard):

    7. GiftcardMall.com Visa Gift Card - Gift Card Score 78
    8. Wells Fargo Visa Gift Card - Gift Card Score 72
    9. Vanilla Visa Gift Card - Gift Card Score 72
    10. Vanilla MasterCard Gift Card Score - 72

Bank-issued gift cards get a bad rap due to the prevalence of post-sale fees and expiration dates. However, the gift cards in this group buck the trend and do not charge maintenance fees or impose expiration dates on gift card funds. GiftcardMall's offering took the top spot with a free replacement policy for lost or stolen gift cards.

5 Gift Cards To Avoid:

    1. Rite Aid Gift Card - Gift Card Score 15
    2. American Apparel Gift Card - Gift Card Score 52
    3. Borders Gift Card - Gift Card Score 57
    4. Zales Gift Card - Gift Card Score 57
    5. Blockbuster Gift Card - Gift Card Score 58

Gift cards on this list are to be avoided because the companies who issue them are in poor financial condition. If a retailer goes out of business, gift card holders are left with nowhere to redeem and slim chances of seeing any reimbursement from a bankruptcy court. All 5 retailers will be selling and accepting gift cards this holiday season and while these companies may make it well into 2011, we think it's simply a risk not worth taking.

For over 500 more Gift Card Scores, visit ScripSmart.com.

About ScripSmart

ScripSmart.com is the gift card information service for consumers. The company offers gift card reviews, gift card advice, gift card law summaries and a free alert system for consumers looking to get the most out of their gift cards. ScripSmart's patent pending Gift Card Score helps consumers easily identify and support the best gift cards. Each Gift Card Score ranges from 0-100, factors include: fees, expiration dates, replacement policies, redemption features, balance inquiry options, clear disclosure of terms, and more.

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Judd Lillestrand
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