Gift vouchers and gift cards

There is a new national gift card law which affects all consumers.  The Australian Consumer Law has been amended. Now there is a consistent approach to gift cards, no matter where in Australia consumers buy them.

A gift card is usually loaded with an amount of cash that enables consumers or the recipient to exchange it for goods or services to the value of the amount on the card. It may also be provided in voucher, paper or digital format.

With the exception of a few limited-use gift cards and vouchers, all gift cards bought after 1 November 2019 come with an minimum three-year expiry date.

Cards and vouchers bought before 1 November

For all gift cards and vouchers bought before 1 November, the original terms and conditions apply. If the card/voucher has an expiry date it must be used within that specified period of time.

Examples of exceptions to the new rule

Type of card/voucherExample
Cards/vouchers for goods/services available for a limited timeEntry into a museum
Cards/vouchers supplied as part of a temporary marketing promotion$50 wine voucher valid for one month which is mailed to consumers as a free bonus with a purchased item (it was not part of the original offer)
Cards/vouchers donated free of charge for a promotional purposeA local shopping centre has a one-day-only marketing promotion where each visitor to the centre receives a $20 gift card valid for use in any store in the centre for that day only
Card/voucher sold for a particular good/service which is below market value (genuine discount) 
Card/voucher supplied as part of an employee rewards program 
Card/voucher given as a bonus in connection with a purchase of a good/service for use in the same businessCustomer loyalty program

Information for traders

Traders canTraders can't
  • Charge upfront fee for buying the gift card/voucher
  • Charge normal fees as part of a transaction such as:
    • overseas transaction fees
    • booking fees
    • replacing card fees (lost/stolen/damaged)
  • Charge post-purchase fees or administration fees which will reduce the value of the gift card/voucher for example:
    • activation fee
    • account keeping fee
    • balance enquiry fee

Gift card/vouchers must clearly state:

  • all conditions and restrictions on how you can use the gift card or voucher
  • the  expiry date, including any activation expiry date for cards that need to be activated
  • any limitation on the number of transactions
  • whether or not the card can be reloaded or topped up.

What consumers need to do

  • Check the expiry date on any cards and vouchers carefully
  • Read the card/voucher terms and conditions carefully, as there may be restrictions on how the card may be used

Cash for cards

Gift cards or vouchers can’t usually be exchanged for cash, unless:

  • there is a remaining amount on the card that the business believes can’t be conveniently used or
  • it is stated in the card’s terms and conditions.

When a card isn't honoured

A store does not have to honour your gift card if:

  • have new owners (unless the sale of the business was as a ‘going concern’ where the assets and liabilities are transferred to the new owner)
  • they go into administration, receivership or liquidation (consumers become ‘unsecured creditors’ of the previous company).

The best way to avoid these situations is to use a gift card early.

Related information