Gift cards you should use now before it's too late

Gift cards you should use now before it's too late

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Most of us have been on the receiving end of a gift card. Some get used quickly, while others get tucked away. One retail expert is warning consumers to cash in certain cards before the businesses are gone forever.

Several companies in our area have filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and while they can emerge from it, they often don't. If you've got a gift card for that retailer, you can be out of luck.

Kyle James of warns, "You just don't know when they might shutter their doors."

Aeropostale is in Chapter 11. If you have a gift card for this store, James recommends using it in the next few weeks.

"They are closing 113 stores and they're going to try and reorganize and comeback. As of right now, they are still accepting gift cards," he explains.

PacSun filed for bankruptcy in April with hopes of reemerging strong. James' advice is to use this gift card before it's too late.

American Apparel is operating normally again after filing, but James says, "You don't know how much longer they're going to be around, how well they're doing. That's one of those ones, if you have that gift card, use it here in the next few months, just to be safe. Sears, Kmart, they are closing 78 stores. They are still accepting gift cards right now, both online and in store. They are another one that's on the fence."

Radio Shack closed three locations in 2015. A handful remain in RVA, but Kyle says the company stopped accepting gift cards last March.

"There's a website,, where you can actually go on and file a claim," said James.

The deadline to file is December 2.

Hancock Fabrics recently locked its doors for good. If you had a gift card for this store and want to get your money back, you have to file a claim and get in line with everyone else the business owes.

"It's worth a shot with these stores to try and get your money back but it's definitely not a sure thing," said James. "It kind of depends on the companies specifically, how in debt they are, how many creditors they have."

If the store's physical location has closed, don't count on being able to redeem its gift card online. James has found that the retailer's website usually vanishes before locking down the brick-and-mortar stores.

Copyright 2016 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved