by Alex Palmer | November 10, 2011
Incentive planners can be confident that the gift cards they give this holiday season have almost no surprise fees or expiration dates, a new report finds. According to ScripSmart’s "2011 Holiday Gift Card Report," a full 97.5 percent of store-issued gift cards do not impose expiration dates, while only 2.7 percent of them deduct fees after the initial purchase.

The report, which drew on a survey of more than 600 gift cards, also found that 96.4 percent of store-issued cards impose no fee to purchase. This is good news for incentive planners, who are always on the lookout for unexpected fees that can detract from the cards’ value as an incentive gift. 

But the survey found some points of note when looking at whether cards could be applied both online and at brick-and-mortar locations.

“What people may find most surprising is that 20.3 percent can’t be redeemed online, and 30.1 percent of ecards are not redeemable in store,” says Judd Lillestrand, founder and CEO of ScripSmart. 

ScripSmart serves as a resource for consumers and incentive planners looking for information about the terms and transparency of hundreds of gift cards from national merchants, rating them on a scale from zero to 100. This is the first year the organization has summarized the state of gift card simplicity and openness into a report, and Lillestrand expects it will be expanded next year.

The average gift card score for store-issued gift cards in the report was 75, while bank-issued gift cards came in with only a 56 on their gift card score. Bass Pro Shops, Whole Foods Market, the Container Store, and Jack in the Box were among the top-scoring cards.

“I was extremely happy with that gift card score,” says Lillestrand. “To me, that says the scoring algorithm is doing its job, and it wasn’t skewed too much to one way or another.”