Read the Fine Print on Your Gift Cards

If you are not careful, that gift card you just received could end up being worth a lot less than you think.

Americans could end up spending almost 30 billion dollars when they cash in their gift cards. But if some of those cards are not used within a certain amount of time, a maintenance fee will deduct a few dollars every month... or they will just expire.

So, experts say use those cards sooner rather than later.

To avoid hassles like up front and maintenance fees, go with cards sold at specific stores.  Those often do not have expiration dates.

But if you do go with generic cards, the State of Texas requires information on fees be given to the customer buying the card.

So read the fine print to make sure you can use the card, should you decide to wait a while before you cash it in.

Or if you want to avoid gift card trouble all together, experts say cold hard cash may be the easiest way to go...since it has no expiration date or maintenance fees.