Defend Your Dollars: Share this site! We support reforms to the financial marketplace to curb bad practices by banks and lenders.

Gift Cards

Many consumers have either given or received a gift card.  Consumer protections for gift cards vary, depending on the type of gift card. 
 
Bank Issued Gift Card: 
 
Federal law prohibits quick expiration dates and fees on bank issued gift cards, or those with a major card network logo, such as a Visa, MasterCard or American Express:
 
• Gift cards cannot expire less than five years from the date the card was purchased or money was last added to the card, whichever is later.
• No fees if the card has been used within the past 12 months. If a card remains unused for 12 months, then there can be one fee a month.
• Stronger state laws continue to apply, including for both expiration dates and fees.
 
Store Issued Gift Card:
 
Several states have strong laws on store gift cards, banning expiration dates and fees on these gift cards.  If a consumer obtains a gift card from a state without a gift card law, or provides weaker protections, the same federal protections for bank issued gift cards apply.    
 
Rewards, Loyalty, Promotional, Telephone or Rebate Card: 
 
• No protections.
 

Publications

  • State Gift Card Consumer Protection Laws 2013 Update

    The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the CARD Act) provides consumers several gift card protections including limits on expiration dates and fees

  • Gift Cards: Consumer Tips for the 2012 HolidaySeason

    Gift cards continue to be a very popular gift giving solution. Before you buy or receive a gift card this holiday season, be sure you know which protections apply to your card, as they may vary depending on the type of card you buy.

  • Gift Cards 2010: New consumer tips for the holiday season

    Gift Cards 2010: New Consumer Tips for the Holiday Season The year 2010 saw many new developments for gift cards.  The gift card provisions of the Credit CARD Act went into effect on August 22, 2010, giving all gift cards minimum protections against early fees and expiration dates.  And “virtual” or “e-gift” cards, which you Continue Reading

  • State gift card consumer protection laws

    A summary of key features of many state gift card laws.

  • Fact sheet on state gift card protection laws

    A summary of key features of many state gift card laws.

  • Gift Cards

    Many consumers have either given or received a gift card. Several states have passed strong laws on retailer gift cards, resulting in many gift cards which no longer have expiration dates or fees. But, consumers continue to experience problems in trying to use their gift cards, especially with the growing number of retailers filing for bankruptcy.

  • Retailer Bankruptcy and Gift Card Watch

    Recent Retailer Bankruptcies * This list is not all-inclusive of retailer bankruptcies. Some retailers also may no longer be in business. Updated by: Financial Services Team 5/4/2009

  • The Consumers Union Model State Gift Card Law

    This legislation would prevent consumers from losing the value on their gift cards.

  • Consumer Reports, Viewpoint: Gift Cards

    Bah Humbug! When a gift card is no gift Last holiday season, John Houston received a turntable as a gift. He didn’t need it and returned it to Sharper Image, receipt in hand, but the store would only give him a refund in the form of a store credit.

  • Protect all your money if your bank fails

    Consumer groups call on the FDIC to apply deposit insurance to all prepaid cards, payroll cards, and bank-issued gift cards.

Press Releases

Blog Posts

  • Let the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Continue To Do Its Job

    (Cross-posted from Consumer Reports Online in an article by Stephen Saltzman) On July 21, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will mark its fourth anniversary. The consumer financial watchdog, created by Congress in the wake of the financial crisis caused by shady mortgage lenders and Wall Street abuses, has done a lot for consumers in just Continue Reading

  • THINK GLOBAL, SPEND LOCAL: CITIES OFFERING NEW FINANCIAL PRODUCTS

    Thanks to J.B. Wogan over at Governing magazine, we’ve heard about a new product: a municipal gift card. According to Mr. Wogan’s story,  New Haven, Connecticut, is launching the “New Haven Shop-Dine-Park” gift card. Gift cards are different from the city-backed prepaid cards we’ve written about here. With the exception of gift cards for time at Continue Reading

  • Scammy Spammy Text Messages Getting You Down?

    By special guest blogger Caitlin Watkins Text message scams are crafted to get people to tell scam artists their personal information. To do so, they tempt you with offers and enticing rewards, but don’t be fooled by the promise of money and free vacations. Spam can slow your cell phone connection, add charges to your Continue Reading

  • Why The CFPB Is The Best Thing To Happen To Americans Since J.Law

    Jennifer Lawrence is pretty awesome, right? For several years now she’s excelled at playing characters that excite the American imagination- they’re young, vibrant, and struggle against difficult odds or crafty opponents.  The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is also young, rather vibrant, and also goes to battle with powerful forces but, despite all this, the Continue Reading

  • Transaction Monitoring and Credit Monitoring in Light of the Target Breach

    Target has begun to offer security breach victims free credit monitoring for a year now that approximately 110 million Americans may have had their data compromised due to a security breach. We’ve advised consumers to conduct regular transaction monitoring to prevent fraud, and now some consumers have been asking us, “What’s the difference between transaction Continue Reading

  • Gift Cards: Tips for Givers and Receivers

    American consumers are set to spend nearly $30 billion on gift cards this year, with eight out of ten consumers planning to give a gift card this holiday season, according to a recent report by the National Retail Federation. Gift cards have some protections, but gaps can catch consumers unaware. Here’s a brief summary of Continue Reading

  • Gift Cards: Consumer Tips for the 2012 HolidaySeason

    Gift cards continue to be a very popular gift giving solution.  Before you buy or receive a gift card this holiday season, be sure you know which protections apply to your card, as they may vary depending on the type of card you buy. Most gift cards have limits on expiration dates and fees provided Continue Reading

  • CU Comment on CFPB Determination of Effect of Maine and Tennessee Unclaimed Property Laws

    Consumers Union filed comments to the CFPB regarding the agency’s determination on the effect of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act and Regulation gift card provisions as they relate to Maine and Tennessee’s Unclaimed Property Laws.

  • The Latest Gift Card Advice

    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.

  • “E-Gift Cards”: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

    Read our information and consumer tips before buying and using ” e-gift” cards.

Page 1 of 41234