Gift Card Expiration Laws Are Not Followed by Many Businesses and Not Questioned by Consumers

Gift Card Expiration Laws By State
Businesses-Make Sure You’re Following These Laws
Consumers-Make Sure You Take Advantage of Your Protections
Many states have created laws to protect consumers in the gift card industry. A while back, businesses were selling gift cards, but not clearly disclosing expiration dates and fees that were associated with gift card inactivity, etc…
The state laws have been around for a long time, and there haven’t really been any major changes in this sector of consumer law, but it is always a surprise to come into contact with businesses that still aren’t following the rules. Either they don’t know the laws in their particular state, or they think that consumers won’t challenge them on it. This list should serve to both educate businesses and consumers.
Take note that there is some controversy on whether the state laws apply to where the gift card was issued or where the gift card is being used especially when the business operates in many states. In general, it is assumed that the law applies to where the gift card was issued unless the business only operates in one state, and you got your gift card shipped to you in another state. In that case, you should assume that the laws of the state where the business operates apply.
Arkansas
o No expiration date within the first two years.
o No fees for two years. Any fees after two year period must be printed clearly on front or back of card in at least 10 point font.
o Covers gift cards useable at single store or chain.
o Does not cover cards linked to bank accounts usable with multiple unaffiliated merchants or prepaid calling cards.
California
o No expiration dates and no fees, with one exception.
o Permits a $1 per month fee only when the card has a balance of $5 or less, the card has been unused for 24 months, and the card is reloadable.
o Covers gift cards at a single store or chain. Multiple-use gift cards are not covered.
o Any card with a cash value of $10 or less may be redeemed for cash.
Connecticut
o No expiration dates.
o No fees.
Florida
o No expiration dates.
o No fees. Accenture Consulting Firms
o Does not cover cards linked to bank accounts usable with multiple unaffiliated merchants.
Hawaii
o No expiration for two years.
o No fees.
o Covers any electronic card with a banked dollar value.
Illinois
o No expiration date for five years.
o No fees.
o Does not include cards usable with multiple merchants.
Iowa
o No fees unless there is a contract.
Kansas
o No expiration for five years.
o No fees for one year.
o Does not cover prepaid bank cards.
Kentucky
o No expiration within first year.
o No fees.
o Does not include prepaid calling cards or cards linked to bank accounts usable with multiple unaffiliated merchants or ATMs.
Louisiana
o No expiration dates for five years.
o No service fees, except for a one-time handling fee of $1.
o Covers cards issued to be redeemed in goods or services provided by the card seller.
Maine
o No expiration dates.
o No fees except for transaction fee for initial issuance or for adding value to existing card which must be disclosed in separate writing before purchase.
o Does not cover prefunded bank cards.
o Cards with an initial value of $5 or less; or rewards or refund cards with $5 or less after redemption may be redeemed in cash.
Maryland
o No expiration dates for four years.
o No fees for four years.
o Any terms and conditions must be printed clearly in 10 point type on the card, on a sticker affixed to the card or in an envelope containing the card.
o Does not cover prepaid calling cards or prepaid bank cards.
Massachusetts
o No expiration dates for 7 years.
o Cards with a remaining balance of $5 or less may be redeemed in cash.
o Does not include prepaid calling cards or any electronic cards usable with multiple unaffiliated merchants.
Michigan
o No expiration dates for five years.
Minnesota
o No expiration dates.
o No fees.
o Does not include debit cards or other legal access devices used to access a deposit account, prepaid calling cards, cards linked to bank accounts usable with multiple unaffiliated merchants.
Montana
o No expiration dates.
o No fees.
o If original value of gift card was more than $5, and remaining value is less than $5, can redeem for cash.
o Does not cover prepaid telecommunications or technology cards or gift certificates usable with multiple sellers.
Nevada
o Expiration or fees allowed only if properly disclosed.
o No fees within first year and no fees that exceed $1 per month.
o Covers only single retailers.
o Does not cover prepaid telecommunications or technology cards.
New Hampshire
o No expiration for cards of $100 or less.
o No expiration earlier than date funds escheat to state for cards over $100.
o No fees.
New Jersey
o No expiration for two years.
o No dormancy fee for two years from date of sale or two years from most recent activity or transaction.
o No dormancy fee can be more than $2.
o Expiration date and/or dormancy fee must be printed on card, package or sales receipt and include a toll free number to call for information.
o Does not include prepaid calling or technology Consulting Sales Sheet card, or prepaid bank cards.
New Mexico
o No expiration for five years.
o No fees.
o Covers cards with single retailer or affiliated merchants.
o Does not cover prepaid calling cards or cards associated with a deposit, checking, savings or similar account at a bank for debiting such account.
North Carolina
o Fees to be conspicuously disclosed on card at time of purchase.
o No fees for first year.
o Covers prepaid calling cards.
o Does not cover bank cards usable at multiple unaffiliated merchants.
North Dakota
o No expiration for six years.
o No fees.
o Covers prepaid calling cards.
o Does not cover cards usable at multiple, unaffiliated merchants or cards linked to bank accounts.
Ohio
o No expiration for two years
o No fees for two years.
o Does not cover prepaid calling cards or cards usable with multiple unaffiliated merchants.
Oklahoma
o No expiration and no fees for five years, with one exception.
o Permits a $1 per month fee only when the card has a balance of $5 or less, the card has been unused for 24 months, the card is reloadable and the fee is properly disclosed.
o Covers cards with single retailer or affiliated merchants.
o Does not cover prepaid calling cards or any prepaid service.
Oregon
o No expiration dates.
o No fees with one exception-if card is sold below face value and does not expire until 30 days after the date of sale and card has printed “expires on” or “expiration date” with the date of expiration.
o Does not include prepaid calling cards, prepaid commercial mobile radio services, or cards usable with multiple merchants.
Pennsylvania:
o Expires after 2 years if unredeemed or after 5 years from date of purchase if no redemption period specified.
o Covers cards with single retailer or affiliated merchants.
o “Qualified gift certificates” do not expire and do not have fees.
o Does not cover flexible spending accounts or bank cards usable with multiple affiliated merchants or ATMs.
Rhode Island
o No expiration dates.
o No fees.
o Covers prepaid long distance telephone service cards.
o Does not cover prepaid wireless telephone service cards.
South Carolina
o No expiration dates for first year, unless expiration date is on front of card in capitalized letters in 10 point font.
o Fees permitted but must be disclosed on certificate, envelope, covering or receipt.
Tennessee
o No expiration dates for two years.
o No fees for two years.
o Does not cover prepaid calling cards or cards usable with multiple, unaffiliated merchants.
Texas
o No fees for first year.
o Expiration or fees and other terms must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed at time of purchase. The expiration date and fees must be legibly printed on the card.
o Does not cover prepaid calling cars or stored value cards issued by a federally insured financial institution.
Utah
o No expiration date if not printed or information is not included.
o No fees if not printed or information is not included.
o Expiration and fees must be printed in readable manner on instrument, packaging or record.
Vermont
o No fees for three years.
o No fees, except a licensed money transmitter, financial institution or credit union may charge a one-time issuance fee of either $10 or 10%, whichever is smaller.
o Does not cover access device such as a debit card or other access means to a consumer’s account regularly maintained at a bank to access funds or to initiate an electronic funds transfer from the account.
Washington
o Permits a $1 per month fee only when the card has a balance of $5 or less, the card has been unused for 24 months, the card is reloadable, and is disclosed on card in at least 6 point font.
o Covers gift cards at a single store or chain.
o Does not cover multiple-use gift cards, or cards usable with multiple unaffiliated merchants.

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