Gift Cards, the Next Toxic Asset?

The Holiday shopping season usually gets in full gear in the US on Black Friday.

Lauren McKay (Destination CRM, November 13) suggests It's Going To Be a Disaster , a gloomy assessment for 2008 and raises one issue that I had not thought about.

What happens if the retailer you purchased Gift Cards from goes bankrupt in the early months of 2009?
In some instances they might be worthless.
She mentions Bankruptcies may sap gift cards (, November 12) pointing to The Sharper Image as an example.

Anne D'Innocenzio (AP) echoes these concerns in Gift cards may be losing their luster (November 26).

She quotes Brian Riley stating that "shoppers this season will be looking for much better cash deals at the stores. So getting that $200 sweater marked down to $50 for your grandmother might seem a better deal than just buying a $50 gift card. He also noted that gift card sales will also be hurt by the overall reduced holiday spending."

Going ahead and purchasing Gift Cards this season, the best choice might be to buy generic ones say American Express, Visa or Mastercard.

At least you can use them for many stores, restaurants and services.

Are they FDIC insured if your bank goes under, not sure?

Is anything certain these days?

Related: The Death of Black Friday? 'Don't Buy it' makes the case

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