Gift Card Laws (do you know what they are?)

What is a gift card? What rights do you have with gift cards?

Gift cards are increasingly becoming popular as a “go-to” gift for all ages and people. I remember when they weren’t as user-friendly and had all this mumbo-jumbo about expiration dates, dormancy fees, and escheat by states. Sometimes I read on the back of gift cards that they can’t be redeemed for cash unless stated by law. I began to wonder what states had these laws and what other laws surrounded gift cards. I mean where do all that unused gift card money go? What can you do with gift cards you don’t like or use or have like $1 on them?

I found this nifty site called scrip smart – gift cards simplified. Website here.
Scrip Smart rated every state with a A-F score.

These were the top-rate states with the most comprehensive & user-friendly laws.

  • California (A)
  • Connecticut (A)
  • Massachusetts (A)
  • Minnesota (A)
  • Rhode Island (A)
  • Washington (A)

These states have a A rating because offer a variety of services such as : no expiration dates, consumer gift card websites, money doesn’t escheat back to the state, they have legally defined the notion of ‘gift card’, $1 less dormancy fees,offer options for cash back, and stores must take gift cards even during bankruptcy. (Every state is different but this is a summary of reasons why they are A quality laws)

I had to say from the brief summary I have to say California has one of the best laws out there regarding gift cards.Took a look…. at CALIFORNIA GIFT CARD LAWS (some gift cards do not fall under the law such banking, promos…*)

What we like: CALIFORNIA

  • No expiration dates allowed
  • Gift Cards are redeemable for cash if value is $10.00 or less
  • Gift cards do not escheat to the State of California
  • California offers a consumer gift card website
  • California has legally defined the notion of a gift card
  • California has legally specified whether or not gift cards escheat to the state
  • Merchant must continue to accept gift cards while in bankruptcy

What could be better:

  • A $1.00 monthly fee may be charged after the balance is $5.00 or less and the card has been inactive for at least 2 years and the card is reloadable

Vocab: What does Escheat Mean? here

1. a reversion to the state (as the ultimate owner of property) in the absence of legal heirs
2. the property that reverts to the state

In the terms of gift cards, it basically means if you don’t use your gift card money after a certain amount of time (varies by state- dormancy, loss, expiration) the state gets to claim it as their money and it’s no longer your property.

**New Gift Cards Laws became effective as of August 22, 2010

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