Did you know that gift cards you receive for charitable or promotional purposes are allowed to expire? The rules and laws around gift cards can get a little confusing. To help clear things up, we’ve gone over these two examples where your gift card can expire.

Prizes

Question: I won a gift card as a prize that entitled me to a free tub of ice cream. The card has an expiry date on it. I thought gift cards aren’t allowed to expire?

Answer: In this situation, because the gift card was a prize (issued for a promotional purpose) the card is allowed to expire according to the Prepaid Purchase Card Regulation. As long as the business indicates when/how the card can be used on the card itself or in the receipt that comes with it, they can set their own policies for the card when it is sold or issued for a promotional purpose.

Charity

Question: I went to a silent auction for a charity and bought a gift card that was donated by a restaurant about a year ago. I forgot I had the card and tried to go to the restaurant, but they said it had expired. Is that allowed?

Answer: In this situation, because the gift card was sold for a charitable purpose, it is allowed to expire. As long as the business indicates when/how the card can be used on the card itself or in the receipt that comes with it, they can set their own policies for the card when it is sold or issued for a charitable purpose.

There are other situations where gift cards can expire. Check out our gift card infographic available on one of our blog posts to help clear things up even further. For more detailed information about what types of gift cards are allowed to expire and are exempt from the “expiry date prohibition”, take a look at this section of the Prepaid Purchase Card Regulation.

About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.

ADDITIONAL READING:

Why it matters: reading the details about your mall card
The gift of gift cards
It looks, smells and tastes like a gift card…but is it?
What happened to the balance on my gift card?
What would you do? A guide to being a savvy gift card consumer