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Store-Branded Gift Cards Have Lowest Fees, Survey Finds

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What’s better: A store-branded gift card, or an all-purpose one you can use anywhere?

According to’s annual Gift Card Survey released on Monday, store-branded gift cards have fewer purchase fees than those issued by banks and credit card companies.

Of the 55 store-branded gift cards surveyed -- including Bloomingdale’s, Whole Foods, Target and Rite Aid -- only 9 percent charged a purchase fee, and only 2 percent charge a maintenance fee.  Conversely, all of the eight gift cards offered by banks and credit card companies (Discover, American Express, MasterCard and Visa through various banks), charged a fee ranging anywhere from $2.95 to $6.95.

Federal law requires that gift cards stay good for at least five years, and 95 percent of the cards surveyed by Bankrate do not have an expiration date.  

Additionally, the survey found that two-thirds of gift card issuers will replace the card and/or money if it is lost or stolen.  Seventy-five percent of the all-purpose credit cards charged a dormancy or maintenance fee (up to $3 per month) if the card is not used for a year or more, whereas only 2 percent of the store-branded ones did.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio