Get your money’s worth from Christmas gift cards this year.

With Christmas fast approaching, if you’ve left your shopping until last minute or you’re stumped for a brilliant gift idea, the option of a gift card can make for an ideal pick.

Gift cards can be a little bit more exciting than receiving cash and can be as personal as you want them to be, and an easy choose for a secret Santa gift.

So if you’re considering sending a Christmas gift card to friends or family this year, here are a few simple ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of them.

The Office of Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer says it is important for consumers purchasing gift cards to remember they came with terms and conditions that were often less flexible than cash.

“Protect a gift card like you would cash. If you lose it, you most likely won’t be able to redeem it and make sure the expiry dates allows a decent amount of time to redeem.

“When you receive a gift card, it is a good idea to use it as soon as possible.

“Consider the other terms and conditions, like whether cash change is available if the full value is not redeemed in one transaction,” he says.

The Office of Fair Trading also has a BuySmartQLD app, which in addition to containing all you need to know about your consumer rights, also has a handy function to remind you about your gift card expiry dates.

Keep the following tips in mind when buying or using gift cards:

- Check if the gift card has any minimum spend limits.
- Check if the card can be used across multiple transactions, and if cash change is offered when there is a small amount remaining.
- Use the gift card as soon as possible as a business could change hands or goes into liquidation, or you may just forget to use it.
- Check if the retailer records the details of gift cards so they can be replaced if lost or stolen.
- Keep your receipt and note any identifying number or code shown on the gift card.
- Find out if you can check the balance remaining on a gift card in-store or online.
- Get a written copy of the gift card terms and conditions from the retailer.
- Remember that some shopping centre gift cards exclude specific stores within that centre.

Consumers who have encountered difficulties when attempting to redeem a gift card can contact the Office of Fair Trading for information on their rights

The BuySmartQld app is available from Google Play and iTunes now for free.

Do you opt for the gift card at Christmas? Have you ever had trouble with gift cards?