Anchor Intro: I'm Kristin Arnold. Ever since their introduction, gift cards have been a holiday staple. But in a sign of the times, this season fewer of us may be giving or receiving them. If you plan on stuffing a stocking with a gift card this season, Bankrate.com has some tips that help.
Voice over 1: With the economy in the doldrums, it's more important to make sure the gifts you give this season will provide the most cheer at the least expense.
Voice over 2: And that's especially true with gift cards. According to a recent survey, 60 percent of us will be giving at least one card this season -- that's down from prior years. And a third of us won't be redeeming them on a splurge.
SOT: We might see some shifts in what people are buying in gift cards. It might go from luxury items to more essentials from gas and grocery gift cards.
Voice over 3: But whatever type of card you give, here are three things to watch for: First, avoid activation, redemption and other fees where possible. Bankrate.com has a free guide that will give the facts on dozens of cards.
Voice over 4: Some department stores are offering free gift cards if you spend a certain amount. So look for a deal, but don't overspend to get a free card.
Voice over 5: And beware of stores that might go belly-up.
SOT: Keep in mind you need to buy gift cards from a company that's stable and is going to be around. Because the last thing you want is a company to go bankrupt and then you lose that gift.
Standup: And one last tip: Some cards will let you personalize your gift card for a fee by adding a personal photo or greeting. A better idea is to put it in another related gift. Or if you're on a tight budget, maybe a holiday card that you created. For Bankrate.com, I'm Kristin Arnold.