Clark Howard: Skip out on gift cards this holiday shopping season

Jacksonville, FL — While millions of people are searching for sales this Black Friday some people are skipping out on the rush to stores and resorting to giving gift cards this year.

Consumer Warrior Clark Howard says it’s not a smart move to give someone a gift card for a gift.

"You're guessing somebody likes eating at that restaurant or somebody likes going to Starbucks."

He says rather than using the money to put a certain amount on a plastic card, you’re better off giving the person cash instead. Clark likes the idea of giving cash to someone because it doesn’t have an expiration date and money can be used anywhere.

READ: 3 tips to get the most value out of gift cards.

Clark says giving a gift card not only allows the recipient to get a card for a restaurant or store that is going out of business, but it also opens the risk of getting ripped off.

"Crooks are emptying the value of the card right after its activated. So you buy, give it to them, and when they try to use it – it's got zero balance on it."

According to Clark, there is only one exception to giving gift cards. He says a gift card is good when the store or restaurant is running a promotion that enhances the value of the card.

MORE: The only exception to Howard's 'no gift card' rule.

If you are the receiving end of a gift card – Clark recommends using them as quickly as possible. He says the restaurant and retail industry is highly unstable.

LISTEN: Clark Howard's latest podcast 

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