What's Wrapped With Gift Cards?

By Matt Porter

December 11, 2012 Updated Dec 12, 2012 at 11:00 AM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Financial servicer CEB Tower Group estimates $110 billion dollars will be spent on gift cards in 2012.

That's the most ever spent.

Target store manager Jason Aurelio said the convenience of a gift card is a likely reason the demand is so high each year.

"Their utility, their design and everything," said Aurelio, "It's a fantastic way to give a gift if you don't know that right item for that person."

At Target, they're even including small toys with the cards in an effort to make them a little more personal.

"The toy gift cards we cannot even stay stocked in them and we only have just a few left here," Aurelio said, "But we're getting replenishment on a daily basis because they are in just such high demand."

Roseanne Tyler from Binghamton said the cards are an easy way to buy for those hard to shop.

"Friends, when you don't know what to get," Tyler said, "It's a good way to do it, just send a card and they can pick out what they want."

Other shoppers like Linda Johnson from Owego said it's just what's on the list.

"It's what they asked for when I said I want your Christmas List," said Johnson, "And when I got their Christmas List, it's what they asked for. That's what I got, written down."

Assistant Attorney General Mike Danaher recommends before someone buys a gift card, they read the fine print.

"They should see if there are any fees associated with it," Danaher said, "And if there are fees associated with it, make their decisions."

Some cards can ask for an activation fee, others can include maintenance fees if they aren't used.

There are some consumer protections for gift cards.

As part of the Credit Card Act of 2009, no gift card purchased after August 2010 can expire in less than five years.

And in New York, no card can charge maintenance or "dormancy" fee until there has been 13 consecutive months of inactivity.

At Plato's Closet in Vestal, they encourage people to buy gift cards. Anyone who does is entered to win another during a weekend raffle.

"It's nice when you purchase a gift for someone and maybe double their gift or get a gift for yourself as well," said Plato's store manager Eric Setzer, "Maybe someone else that's on your list."

The National Retail Federation estimates that 81.1 percent of shoppers will buy at least one gift card this holiday season.

That's the highest in the survey's 10-year history.