Bill Bans Gift Card Gotchas

(Memphis) Call it the season’s hottest gift.  Experts predicted gift card spending would reach its highest level ever this holiday season at nearly $30 billion.  Now, possible rule changes could make the plastic an even more popular gift.

It seems to be the present people love to give and receive. Ashley Smith told News Channel 3, “Me and my boyfriend actually gave 22 Chick-Fil-A cards to our family members.”

Her friend Kathy Swanson got three Starbucks gift cards over the holidays, one of which she pulled right out of her purse during our interview.
 
Smith has even been holding on to several gift cards from Christmas past.

“I actually just used another gift card from three years ago on Christmas, yeah, at Gould’s Spa, it still worked… which I was worried about,” explains Smith.

The CARD Act, passed a few years ago, keeps gift cards good for five years, but some say it’s not enough. A new bill would ban all dormancy, inactivity and service fees on gift cards, certificates and general use prepaid cards.

The legislation would also prevent loyalty and promotions cards from expiring. Plus, it would force bankrupt retailers to honor unredeemed cards.

“I don’t think there should be any strings attached to the gift that I give, just because it’s a gift card,” adds Swanson.

Many consumer advocates support the bill, but some companies that issue gift cards do not.  A spokesperson from the American Bankers Association called the measure unnecessary. 

The representative says gift cards don’t actually expire anyway.  While the card expires,  the funds do not.  The ABA rep says customers can call the company to get a new card issued.