State

Shopping Tips for After Christmas

In addition to sales, gift cards and returns are among the most common reasons consumers head to stores after Christmas. Experts offer tips on how to make such transactions work best:

GIFT CARDS

Check the card's policies. State law forbids most cards from expiring, but other limits may apply.

Know the law. You can redeem a card's balance for cash if it's less than $10.

Cards that go unused for too long may require fees to reactivate. Know the policies that apply to your card, and ask at the store if you're not sure.

Keep track of the balance.

Got a gift card from a store you don't frequent? Some online sites offer trades or cash for gift cards. Try www.swapagift.com.

RETURNS

Have a receipt. Many stores will allow exchanges without a receipt, but not refunds.

Know a store's policies. Some brick-and-mortar stores will take back purchases made online, but ask.

Keep all parts of the purchase. That includes not only the receipt, but also the packaging and any parts or instructions.

If the return is an item you received as a gift, ask the person who gave it to you for a gift receipt.

Don't wait forever. Some stores limit returns to within a month or two of purchase.

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