Gift cards giving tips: All cards are not created equal

(NBC News) A survey's being released that says gift cards are once again the most popular gift people will give and get this holiday season.

But before you buy one, understand that not all gift cards are created equal.

"3 out of 4 people have given a gift card," said Janna Herron of bankrate.com

Bankrate.com released its survey of over a thousand shoppers and found most will give at least one gift card this holiday.

General purpose cards from the big credit card companies are preferred over brand specific cards.

"Your brand specific are the ones to Red Lobster or to the Gap or to Toys R Us for example," Herron said.

But general purpose gift cards can charge hefty re-activation or maintenance fees.

Most brand specific cards don't charge fees of any kind.

However, Herron says federal regulations have placed limits on fees on all gift cards.

"You do have 12 months before any kind of dormancy fee, inactivity fee."

Bankrate's survey also found the most common value of gift cards, both given and received, is between $25 and $50.

They also found that the more someone earns, the more likely they'll give a gift card.

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