We often get calls from consumers, asking about prepaid cards and gift cards. Consumer Protection BC is responsible for regulating the law in BC around gift cards when it comes to fees and expiry dates.
There are also rules for prepaid cards that are issued by a federally regulated financial institution. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is responsible for enforcing these rules – and here’s a summary of what you might want to know.
What are the highlights of the prepaid card rules?
- Maintenance fees aren’t allowed for at least one year after the card is activated
- All fees associated with the card must be clearly explained on the packaging
- All other important information has to be given to the buyer before the card is issued in a manner that’s “clear, simple and not misleading.”
Wondering about your specific prepaid card?
Check out this page from the FCAC to see if the regulations apply to your card. This page provides more comprehensive information about prepaid cards from the FCAC’s website.
But aren’t gift cards already regulated in BC?
Yes, Consumer Protection BC administers the laws regarding gift cards in BC – and that hasn’t changed. These others laws about prepaid cards refer to cards issued by a federally regulated financial institution, such as a bank. Need more information? Visit the FCAC’s website.
15 thoughts on “Good news for consumers: new laws in effect for prepaid cards”
Are payday loans companies considered “provincially regulated” institutions? The FCAC website says these rules only apply to federally regulated institutions.
where can i get a small loan
Hi Mercedes, if you are looking for a small loan, you may want to first contact your bank. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask here!
I believe that branded Mastercards, which can be used by some payday lenders, would fall under these new federal rules. Payday lending companies themselves remain regulated by Consumer Protection BC. I hope this information is useful.
I was recently at a retailer and bought a lotto scratch ticket for 20$ but the retailer told me she was charging me 1$ for using the card is that legal?
Hi Teresa, thanks for your question. Lotto scratch tickets do not fall under BC’s prepaid card regulation to my understanding. I’m not aware of what kind of rules would be in place for a usage fee. Did you ask what the fee was for?
Hi Teresa, thank you for asking a question and sorry for the delay in getting back to you! This is not the area that we oversee but we found a webpage from the Government of Canada website that contains some info for you. Take a look at this page and hopefully it can point you in the right direction for more information.
I have recently received gift cards from a business. They are limiting how many can be used to purchase an item. This was not disclosed on the cards or when cards were purchased. Is this legal?
Hi Tim, thanks for reaching out to us here. Hm, that’s odd. That information should have been shared with you at the time of purchase. You may be interested in submitting a complaint form to our office so we can assess the situation further: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/consumer-help/start-a-complaint/ Thanks!
I have heard that some provinces require the issuer to provide a cash refund of an unused balance on the gift card in certain circumstances. Is BC one of these provinces and where do I find this information? thanks
Hi Stacy, we are not aware of that rule but you may want to check the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)’s website – here is the link with more information about prepaid purchase cards. If you don’t find the information you are looking for, you can contact them. This page on their website lists their contact info. I hope they will be able to answer your questions!
Hi there! I had tickets to see a show put on by MRG, it was cancelled due to Covid. I received an e-mail that stated that I would receive a gift card but in fine print it said that refunds were possible. I reached out twice saying that I wanted a refund, not a gift card. I never heard back until I received a digital gift card. What are my rights here? How do I escalate this situation to receive a refund if they won’t even reply to my e-mail? Thanks for any help.
Hi Jen, thank you for reaching out to us. Sounds like you bought your ticket directly from the event organizer, is this correct? If so, according to BC’s Ticket Sales Act, you may have to take the matter to Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) or a court. The other option is to wait until 30 days have passed from the scheduled event date, then “cancel” your contract using our distance sales contract cancellation form. We have that info and form on our website here. If you don’t hear back from the business within 15 business days, you can contact your credit card provider for a charge-back. If you have any questions about this, please let us know.
I purchased one $50 Visa + one $50 MasterCard from Dollarama. I was charged $5.95 “activation fee” for each card. That is 11.9% for each card. When I asked the associate why it was charged, I was advised it was charged by the company providing the card. Is this legal and/or common practice? Thank you.
Hi Laura, thanks for your question. Prepaid cards are allowed to charge fees. However, like the blog post mentions, any fees must be clearly explained on the packaging. While this is not an area we oversee directly, you can learn more about prepaid credit cards on the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada ‘s (FCAC) website here: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada – Canada.ca They are responsible for enforcing the rules explained in the blog post above. Hope this helps!