Do gift cards expire?

Gift cards are popular and convenient gifts (to give and receive) for many occasions. But is it possible for gift cards to expire before they’re used?

The short answer is yes: Gift cards can expire. But federal laws help protect consumers by regulating when gift certificates and cards expire. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act) established fair and transparent practices related to the issuance of credit, restricting what credit card companies can charge consumers. It also enacted regulations to limit fees, expiration dates, and unexpected costs from gift cards. The rules limit dormancy, inactivity, and service fees on gift cards.

  1. Dormancy fees cannot be imposed unless the card has been unused for at least one year
  2. Only one dormancy fee can be charged each month after the first year
  3. The consumer must be given clear and prominent disclosures about fees

The CARD Act also states that gift cards cannot expire until five years after the date the card was purchased or the date money was last loaded onto the card.

While the CARD Act set consumer protections at the federal level regarding gift certificates and cards, it left room for regulation at the state level. Many states have their own gift card laws that can take precedence over federal gift card laws. Find out whether your state has passed any gift card laws by reviewing the chart located on the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

Even though you’re now familiar with the basic rules and regulations associated with gift card expiration, you might still discover that a gift card you’ve given and/or received has expired because it was misplaced or forgotten. As a precaution, try to use any gift cards that you receive as soon as possible. This will help ensure that they retain their full value. Read the terms and conditions associated with your gift cards to find out whether they have any fees, and when those fees might be applied.

Content provided by Forefield for use by Eliot M. Weissberg, CFP®, CFS, of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. The Investors Center, Inc. is an independent company. The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from various sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Eliot Weissberg and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.

This information is not intended as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security referred to herein. Past performances may not be indicative of future results. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

M19-812707 through 11/6/20

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