Personal Finance

Saying it with a gift card

Nalinakanthi V | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on February 08, 2015

The advantage is that you don’t need a bank account to buy a card



Unable to zero in on a gift for your friend’s wedding? A gift card from a bank may just be ideal. You can load the gift card with the amount you wish to gift to your loved ones. These cards can then be swiped at the point of sale by them.

Online vs offline options

Many private and public banks offer gift cards. The advantage is that you don’t necessarily have to have an account with a bank to buy one. You can walk into the nearest bank branch, submit an identity and address proof and a cheque for the required amount along with the application for a gift card. The bank will activate the gift card within one working day from the time that your cheque is realised.

But if you choose to pick up a gift card from the bank in which you have your savings account, do it from the comfort of home through net banking. The flip side is that ordering online means factoring in the time it takes for the card to be shipped and delivered at your doorstep.

There are two advantages to using net banking to buy your card. For those who’d like to make it a pleasant surprise for the recipient, the bank offers to deliver the card directly to the person you wish to gift. Second, when you make the requisition online, the card is customised, with the name of the person you wish to gift it to printed on it.

Charges, limits and validity

The card issuance fee varies across banks. While private banks such as HDFC and ICICI Bank charge ₹100 a card, some other banks also ask for a percentage of the amount to be loaded on the card as charges. SBI, which has waived charges on gift cards until end-March, will charge ₹50 a card from April 1, 2015, onwards.

The minimum and maximum limit also varies across banks. The limit may be higher if you hold an account in that bank.

For instance, if you do not hold an account with HDFC Bank, you can load up to ₹10,000 on the card. But if you are an existing customer, the ceiling is higher at ₹50,000.

The validity period of the card also varies across banks. For instance, while HDFC and ICICI Bank gift cards are valid for one year, SBI’s gift cards are valid for three years from the date of issue. In case there is balance money left in the card at the time of expiry, banks generally issue a re-validated card.

The replacement also involves a fee and unlike the first time, the user of the card will have to pay for the replacement. Alternatively, you can also claim for a refund of the balance in your gift card. However, banks insist on a minimum balance on the card to claim such refund. For instance, Bank of Baroda allows you to claim a refund only if you have a balance of at least ₹100 left. Likewise, you need to make the refund request within three months from the expiry of the card. In case you lose the gift card, the same should be reported to the bank by the purchaser. A new card will be issued and the balance in the lost card will be transferred to the new card.

Similar to debit cards, every gift card is secured by a unique PIN number in order to prevent misuse. You can check the balance left using the PIN number. The only difference between a debit and gift card is that you cannot withdraw money from an ATM using your gift card.

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