Gift cards often seem like the perfect solution for that person that is hard to buy for or that seems like they have everything. You may know they like books, sporting equipment, coffee or a myriad of other things, but exactly what would they like best? Isn’t it sometimes better to leave it up to them? Gift cards probably don’t project a lot of thoughtfulness but let’s face it. Sometimes we just get stuck for ideas for a gift.
Gift cards issued are now subject to the federal CARD Act.
Under federal law they cannot expire for 5 years. States are free to set stricter standards if they wish, but under no circumstances can their laws be more lenient.
Watch for Expiration of Gift Cards
Stores are allowed to charge an inactivity fee if the cards are not used within 12 months of the date of issuance. If you don’t spend it all you are entitled to the balance in cash if that balance is less than $1.00. This law does not apply to loyalty cards, promotional cards, phone cards or bank cards. If the gift card is lost or destroyed, the recipient is out of luck.
These rules do not apply to free awards cards, loyalty cards, promotional cards, phone cards or bank cards. No activity associated with gift cards is reported to the credit bureaus. Their use does not affect your credit score one way or another.