Posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 at 7:00 am
Gift cards make excellent gifts. You can buy one for a friend or family member who is difficult to buy for. Receiving a gift card means you get to pick out something nice for yourself. Will your gift cards expire before you can use them up?
In 2009, the United States Congress passed the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. It provides some protection for consumers who use gift cards.
Here is a summary of the CARD Act on the National Conference of State Legislatures website:
“The law provides that gifts cards cannot expire within five years from the date they were activated and generally limits inactivity fee on gift cards except in certain circumstances, such as if there has been no transaction for at least 12 months.”
The following states prohibit expiration dates on gift cards: California, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.
Maine says: “A period of limitation may not be imposed on the owner’s right to redeem the gift obligation or stored-value card.” Montana says: “A gift certificate is valid until redemption and does not terminate.” New Hampshire prohibits an expiration date for gift certificates valued at less than $100.
Oregon limits the situations in which a gift card can have an expiration date to some very specific rules. Washington does not allow expiration dates on gift cards unless no money was paid for the gift card.
All the other states do allow gift cards to expire. You might want to scroll through the CARD Act website to learn the full details about what your state does, and does not, allow.
Some states allow gift cards to expire after a certain amount of years. Others allow expiration dates on gift cards if the card makes the expiration date very obvious. When in doubt – use up the gift card as soon as possible.