Have a gift card to one of these stores? Use it now

Sports Authority announced last month that it will shutter its stores nationwide, joining the growing list of once-dominant retail giants struggling with the rise of online sales.

AP photo.
AP photo.

Mall merchants Aeropostale and PacSun are in bankruptcy. Sears and Kmart announced in April they planned to close 78 stores.

If you have a gift card to one of these stores, now is the time to use it.

Sports Authority is still accepting gift cards, but time is running out. The sporting goods chain will stop taking the cards on June 28, according to its website.

Kyle James, founder of the coupon website Rather-Be-Shopping.com, says gift cards are an easy gift to give, but are also easy to forget about  once they are in your wallet or a desk drawer.giftcards

Once a retailer goes out of business, it is very difficult to recover any money left on unused gift cards, he said.

He points to Radio Shack, which filed for bankruptcy and stopped accepting gift cards last year. Customers with unused gift cards can file a claim to try to recoup the money.

“A lot of times you don’t have any recourse,” James said. “If you hear of a store that is going into Chapter 11 or struggling financially, think about things you can use (the gift card) on.”

James suggests shoppers look to the holidays, and consider stocking up on gifts.  He also recommends shoppers use an app like Google Wallet to keep track of gift card balances.

“You can scan the gift card into the app,” James said. “It is a great way to guarantee that you are going to have that gift card when you are checking out.”