The Latest Gift Card Advice


We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

By Consumers Union on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

In response to consumer inquiries about gift cards, and in light of the holiday season, we thought it’s time for a refresher on existing gift card protections for consumers.

Most gift cards have limits on expiration dates and fees provided by federal law and many state laws .
At a minimum, the value of your gift card won’t expire for at least 5 years unless you don’t use the card for 12 months.

Of course, there are certain exceptions to these gift card consumer protections. You might have a devalued or worthless gift card…leaving you empty-handed and frustrated.

Know that the following do NOT have gift card protections:
1. Rebate Cards (like rebate checks)
2. Loyalty, rewards or promotional gift cards (such as gift cards redeemed with credit card points)
3. General Purpose Reloadable “Prepaid Cards”

They following may NOT have gift card protections:
1. “E-Gift cards” (electronic gift cards)
2. Discounted gift cards
3. Paper gift certificates

Finally, retailers may declare bankruptcy and shut their doors. If you have a gift card from one of these businesses, you could also be out of luck.

Our final words of advice on gift cards:
If you HAVE or RECEIVE a gift card, use it ASAP!
If you don’t know what else to give, wrap some money in a nice box because it won’t expire, won’t go bankrupt and will hopefully keep its value.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *