Check that stack of gift cards you have in your wallet and make sure there are no “non-activity, dormancy fees, non-use” fees involved. These are fees that they charge to maintain the accounting on your card.
We learned this the hard way after my son received a $50 rebate on a Sprint phone he purchased in the form of a pre-paid gift card. He stuck it in his wallet and never used it for almost a year. By the time he found it and we checked the balance it was down to zero due to the service fees that the company charged to “maintain” the card balance. These are called “inactivity” fees, so basically this means you get charged for not using the card.
Now not all cards have these fees but it is wise for you to check and know exactly what you have.
According to the Federal Gift Card Law (effective August 22, 2010), these type fees must be clearly disclosed on the card or the card’s packaging at the time of purchase, and post-sale fees (one per month) may only be charged if the gift card has gone unused for over a year. State laws, however, may provide tighter restrictions.
Most of these cards come with no instructions but I advise you to go to the website (the web address is usually on the back of the card) and read the disclosure about that particular card to make sure you will not be charged any of these fees that eat up your balance.