The Queensland Consumer Association is encouraging shoppers to use their Gift Cards sooner rather than later.

Gift Cards make a great gift and means the receiver can buy themselves something they like and avoid having to get a refund.

If you are like me you sometimes covet your gift cards for those times when you are between pay cheques and you desperately need a new outfit or you need to buy a book to relax with over the weekend. But then there are those gift cards that you save for a rainy day that just never comes and they expire without you knowing.

It is stories like this that has prompted the Queensland Consumer Association to encourage shoppers to use their gift cards now over the holidays to avoid disappointment later.

Using gift cards soon after you are given them and not waiting a long time before doing so can be very beneficial to you as the consumer.

It reduces the risk of the card being lost, stolen, or forgotten and therefore never redeemed.

If gift cards are never redeemed the gift card giver is basically making a donation to the business where they bought the gift card.

Some businesses will replace lost or stolen cards and have grace periods beyond stated expiry date, but this is only some and not all.

If a business goes into administration, liquidation or receivership gift cards are unlikely to be usable as planned and the holder may become an unsecured creditor.

There are often time limits on trying to get a refund on a gift card using the charge back facility that may be possible if it was bought with a credit card.

A charge back may be possible if the issuer goes into administration, liquidation or receivership, or if there are other problems such as non receipt, or non provision, of agreed goods or services.

The Association encourage gift card holders to read the small print, keep a look out for minimum purchase amount, administration fees and restrictions, so that you get the most from you gift card.

How soon will you be spending your gift cards this year? Or will you save them for the second half of 2014?