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 or paper format.
Businesses must clearly state:
- all conditions and restrictions on how you can use the gift card or voucher
- the expiry date of the gift card or voucher, including the 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.
It is important that consumers check the expiry date on any cards and vouchers carefully, as businesses are not required to honour them after this date.
Consumers should also read the terms and conditions of the card carefully, as there may be restrictions on how the card may be used.
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 may not honour your gift card if they:
- change to new owners (unless the sale of the business was as a ‘going concern’ where the assets and liabilities are transferred to the new owner)
- 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.