Gift Cards Charging Fees Of $25 Or More

Source: Melanie Hicken / CNN Money

Depending on the type of gift card you buy, you could end up paying $25 or more in purchase and shipping fees — and that’s before the maintenance fees kick in.

Bank-issued cards tend to be the biggest culprits, according to a November survey conducted by Bankrate. While all eight of the popular general-purpose gift cards offered by banks and credit cardcompanies charged purchase fees, only five of 55 retail gift cards Bankrate surveyed charged them.

Purchase fees averaged $4.50 per card. American Express (AXPFortune 500) and U.S. Bank (USB,Fortune 500) Visa cards were the worst offenders, with purchase fees as high as $6.95.

And while federal law now prevents all gift cards from expiring within 5 years of purchase, general purpose cards are more likely to charge so-called “maintenance” or “dormancy” fees, monthly charges that can reduce the card’s remaining balance long before the five years are up. By law, these fees can’t kick in until at least 12 months after purchase.

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