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Month: December 2008 (Page 1 of 2)

KB Toys to honor gift cards through January 11, 2009

KB Toys will honor gift cards through at least January 11, 2009. According to this story by Reuters, the toys retailer has entered into an agreement with the NY State Attorney General to honor outstanding gift cards in NY State through January 11, 2009 while it completes liquidation of its stores. The company will post a sign in all stores 10 days prior to any decision to stop honoring consumers’ gift cards. While this deal specifically applies to NY State, I would be surprised if they did anything different in other states.

This agreement became necessary because while the bankruptcy judge authorized KB Toys to continue to honor gift cards during liquidation, it did not require the store to do so. This meant there was a possibility the retailer was not going to honor gift cards during the liquidation (although there is no evidence of that), and hence the intervention by the NY Attorney General. The company sold $2 million in gift cards this year and holds about $12 million in unredeemed gift cards on its books.

So, there you have it – a final chance to use your KB Toys gift card before you lose them.

Check Gift Card Balance

Here is how to check your gift card balance. The first step is to read the information at the back of the card. Gift cards typically provide you at least one of the following ways to check your balance:

Call a Toll Free Number – This is the most popular way to check the balance on a gift card. Majority of gift cards have a toll free number at the back of the card for you to call to check your balance. You need to have your gift card number available, and in same cases, the pin or access number (you may have to scratch-off the protective covering to reveal the pin number).

Go Online – Some retailers allow you to check your gift card balance online, via the merchant’s website. The website address is typically provided on the back of the gift card. Just like with the phone verification, you need your gift card number, and in some cases, the pin or access number to check the balance on your gift card online.

In addition, if you are unsure about how to check your gift card balance, your best bet is to visit the website of the gift card issuer. They typically have instructions online about how to check your gift card balance.

Go to the Store – Some gift cards can only be verified at the store. The Home Depot gift card is an example. This can be a real inconvenience, especially if you do not have a store location close by. I still don’t understand why some stores only allow this option.

A note about online gift cards, also called e-gift certificates. Merchants that issue these online gift cards usually provide detail instructions on how to check your balance with the email that comes with the card information. Be sure to save that email as you may need it later to check your balance. If you deleted the email, contact the card issuer, via their website on how to get another copy of the email to check your balance (you can find that information from the gift card FAQs).

Image Inserted: Back of a Target Gift Card –

Gift Cards not to buy

Avoid buying gift cards from retailers that are in trouble. The following is an updated list of major retailers that have recently filed for bankruptcy or have closed all stores. There may still be people out there trying to sell gift cards from these retailers. In some cases, the retailer’s own website does not tell you about their current troubles and may continue to sell gift cards. A few of them plan to stay in business but avoid their gift cards until their financial situation improves. Here is the list:

KB Toys – Closing all stores
Circuit City – Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November, 2008 (Plans to reorganize and stay in business).
Linens ‘N Things – Closing all stores
Steve and Barry’s – Closing all stores
Tweeter – Closed all stores
Value City Department Store – Closing all stores
Boscov’s – Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2008 and closed some stores. (Remaining stores sold to a group led by a Boscov family member and they plan to stay in business)
Levitz Furniture – Closed all stores
Sharper Image – Closed all stores
Bombay Company – Closed all stores
CompUSA – Closed most stores. Now has 23 stores operating in Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Illinois. CompUSA and TigerDirect are now sister companies. Still issuing gift cards. Clarify their gift card policy before buying. Not sure if they are still redeeming old gift cards or only gift cards issued after the bankruptcy by the “New” CompUSA.
Mervyns – Closing all stores
Bennigan’s, Ponderosa, Steak and Ale restaurants – Company-owned restaurants all closed. Some independently owned restaurants still operating. Gift Cards still sold in some grocery stores. Check with a Bennigan’s, Ponderosa, or Steak and Ale restaurant near you to make sure they are still redeeming gift cards (those issued before the bankruptcy and after).

Note: There is an email circulating (click here to see email) that is warning consumers not to buy gift cards from certain retailers (including some on this list). That email is misleading and incorrect in some ways. Click here for more on that email.

More gift card deals and promotions for the week

Applebee’s – Applebee’s is offering a free $5 bonus gift card when you purchase a $25 Applebee’s gift card. Offer end date unknown. Click here for details.

Best Western – Best Western Hotel is offering a free $10 gift card for every $100 Best Western gift card purchased. For your free $10, you can choose one of the following gift cards – Best Western, Walmart, Home Depot, and Shell. Offer ends on 12/31/2008. Click here for details.

List of Gift Cards Sold at Giant Supermarket

Below is the list of Gift Cards sold at Giant Supermarket. Not all cards are available in all stores. Call your local Giant store for complete list.

Books – Movies – Music – Entertainment
AMC Theatres
Barnes & Noble
Regal Entertainment Group

Read More

Electronics for Gift Cards – Trade your Electronics for Gift Cards

Swap your electronics and get gift cards in return. This article from WGRZ News in Buffalo, NY, an NBC affiliate lists various websites that allow you to trade your electronics for cash or gift cards. I have selected the portions of the article that talk about swapping electronics for gift cards. Here they are: Allows you to trade music players, desktop computer systems, laptops, and cell phones for a Visa gift card. Allows you to trade-in select music players, cell phones, cameras, camcorders, GPS units, car audio systems, laptops, and game systems for a Radio Shack gift card. Allows you to trade-in cell phones, MP3 players, digital cameras, PDAs, gaming counsoles, external drives, satellite radios, and camcorders for an gift card. Accepts iPods and iPhones only and has partnered with Circuit City, J&R and where you can get an e-gift certificate for your trade.

Gift Card Deals and Promotions for the Week – 12/17/08

Bonefish Grill – Bonefish Grill is offering a free $20 gift card when you buy a $100 gift card. You can order the cards online and get free shipping when you buy $250 in gift cards. Bonus $20 gift card must be redeemed from January 1 through February 10, 2009. Offer ends on 12/31/08. Click here for details.

Eastbay – Eastbay, the sporting goods company is offering 20% off on gift card purchases of up to $500. So you could potentially get a $500 gift card for $400. That is not bad. Use promo code IPEBC2TC at checkout to receive the discount. Also, if you order by 12/19, you will have it in time for Christmas. Offer ends on 12/20/08. Gift Cards purchased through this offer can only be used after 12/25/08. Click here for Details.

Best Buy – Best Buy is offering a free $50 Best Buy gift card with the purchase of the 2nd generation 8GB iPod touch (current price $229.99). The free $50 card is good toward future purchase. Offer end date unknown. Click here for details.

Best Buy – Best Buy is offering a free $10 gift card with the purchase of select Balance Board-compatible Wii games which are selling for $39.99 or $49.99. Offer end date unknown. Click here for details.

Best Buy is offering a free $10 gift card with the purchase of select Nintendo DS Video Games which are selling for $29.99. Offer end date unknown. Click here for details.

Gift card legal compliance, escheatment and unclaimed property services by NRA

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has partnered with CardFact, Ltd., an Ohio based gift card services company to offer gift card legal compliance consultancy service to its members. State gift card laws have become more complex and I can see why an industry association like the NRA would offer this service to its members since keeping up with the ever changing landscape of gift card laws could be a challenge for a single company.

There is also a growing interest on the part of states to protect their consumers against gift card practices they consider unfair or abusive, and a federal gift card law may be coming soon in 2009.

CardFact provides gift card compliance and consulting services, with a special emphasis on issues related to escheatment and unclaimed property. This new service by the NRA will be added to the Association’s member benefit portfolio.

No Purchase Fee Visa Gift Card from FirstMerit Bank

FirstMerit Bank is rolling out a no purchase fee Visa Gift card. The only spoiler is that the cards can only be purchased at FirstMerit’s Bank Branches and are not available online. This is exciting news for customers who live in Northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania where the bank’s 158 branches are located.

Purchase fees on Visa and other bank issued gift cards are usually $4.95 so this is a huge savings, especially when you are buying a $25 or $50 gift card. You can choose from more than 50 designs (including a great selection of holiday designs).

The cards can be loaded with any amount from $5 – $500. And for an additional $5, you can get a gift card holder in form of a stuffed moose called Franklin. The only caveat with the FirstMerit Visa gift card is that there is a monthly maintenance fee after six months if there is still a balance on the card (they need to work on this – they should at least give a year if this is even necessary). On the whole, this is a great gift and a step in the right direction since purchase fees on gift cards are just inexcusable. Click here for details.


KB Toys to redeem Gift Cards during Bankruptcy

As announced in this post, KB Toys has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will be closing all stores. The main question, as far as this site is concerned, is whether they are going to redeem gift cards during the liquidation. While there have been reports from various KB Toys stores that they are still redeeming gift cards, we wanted to see an official announcement to support this claim.

Well, we did not have to wait long. According to this report from the Associated Press (AP), the bankruptcy judge overseeing the case has granted all of KB Toys’ first-day motions, which include approval to continue the redemption of gift cards. Yay!!!! The AP reports that the company currently has about $12 million in outstanding gift cards.

In my previous post, I had stated that companies that are in liquidation have no incentive to honor outstanding gift cards. I was wrong. According to an attorney for KB Toys, Joel Waite, there is actually an incentive for companies going out of business to redeem gift cards since customers redeeming the cards often spend more than the amount on the cards, thereby helping to move more merchandise during the going-out-of-business sale. That makes a lot of sense.:)

So, if you have a KB Toys gift card, you now have a final opportunity to use it or lose it.


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