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The best and worst gift cards at Bunnings, Kmart, JB Hi-Fi, Amazon and more this Christmas

Retail audit reveals Australians being ripped off

Looking for a last-minute gift? Gift cards are a popular option for those tight on time, but buyer beware – not all cards are equal.

RateCity has published a list of the naughty and nice gift cards on the market from major retailers like Bunnings, Kmart, Coles and JB Hi-Fi to help you decide where to get the best value this Christmas.

RateCity research director Sally Tindall said gift cards are great for gifts because they can be bought in “just a few clicks” but warned some are riddled with hidden fees and conditions that can bite down the road.

“While short expiry dates and post-purchase fees are largely a thing of the past, shoppers should still be on their toes when buying gift cards,” she said.

Check for hidden fees

“Before you hit the ‘buy now’ button, read the terms and conditions, check for any hidden fees and make sure the card suits the person you’re buying for.”

Major brands like Bunnings, JB Hi-Fi, Cotton On and Amazon have all made RateCity’s gift card nice list this year – their cards all have perks like skipping delivery costs if you shop online.

But others have been named on the “naughty” list, including giftcardstore.com.au, which carries fees as high as $21 for a $500 card.

Qantas also made the naughty list because of a $45 fee per passenger for bookings made through its contact centres, web airport locations chat and social media – although there are no online booking fees.

Ms Tindall also pointed to legislation passed in 2019 that requires gift cards to have a minimum expiry period of three years, with dates clearly presented on cards.

Three-year expiry date

“When shopping for a gift card, check the expiry and if it’s earlier than December 2025, tell them that’s not good enough,” she said.

“People trying to limit single-use plastics can opt for a gift card that is reloadable, or better still give an e-card and bypass plastic altogether.”

RateCity has a number of tips for Australians buying gift cards this year:

  • Read the terms and conditions to ensure they’re easy to redeem
  • Look for hidden fees. If there are any, try alternative retailers
  • Buy cards from sites you know and trust. Check links are secure
  • Allow time for e-gift cards to be processed. It can take a few hours for an email to be processed.
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