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Travel Tip: Are Travel Gift Cards Worth It?

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Credit CardNow that the holiday season is here, you may be thinking about stocking stuffers for the traveler in your life. Instead of luggage tags and neck pillows, how about travel gift cards?

Most airlines and hotels sell retail gift cards that can be redeemed just like cash. And that’s the good news. Unlike a voucher, these cards don’t have blackout periods or expiration dates, and they’re fully transferable.

But there is always fine print. On Southwest, the ticket you buy with a gift card is non-refundable. On American, you can only use the card to purchase a seat. Not upgrades, flight changes, or lounge passes.  And most important, you have to treat these retail cards like cash. If you lose it, you’re on your own.

A better bet is probably a bank-issued gift card. Those can be used any place that accepts the brand, AND they usually come with protections if the card is lost or stolen. That way you’re still giving the gift of travel without a lot of risk.

For more information, visit the airline archives.

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