The holiday season is here. Christmas and holiday parties to celebrate.

The gathering of family and friends, Decorating our humble abodes and of course, Christmas shopping. An easy gift for most is to get a gift card, especially for that hard to find gift person. You can get them in different denominations and from maybe their favorite store or restaurant. Just remember that they can only use those cards at those particular establishments or business.

If you’re not sure what they like, you can always get them a “generic” card, like a Visa or Mastercard. Just be aware of the logistics of the card that you purchase. According to our friends from the Better Business Bureau, you have two types of cards. Whichever one you choose could effect how their card can be used and the amount of fees charged. Cards from banks, malls and credit cards are more likely to add an activation fee, or a fee for things like maintenance, inactivity and transactions. Certain bank-issued gift cards will charge a fee just for checking your balance.

Another thing to be careful of is someone may have gotten a copy of the PIN from the gift card. What I like to do is take one from the middle of the pile. That way, there’s a very good chance that no one has taken the PIN from THAT card. They’re usually taken from the first few cards in the front or back of the pile.

It is also recommended, if possible, to buy a gift card from behind the counter, and always check to make sure the card is securely wrapped up, and the protective stickers are in tact, and the bar codes haven’t been scratched off. If it looks like it may have been tampered with, choose another one.

Buy the card from sources you know.

For more tips about gift cards, check out the Better Business Bureau’s web site: