Consumer Payment Card News

Gift Card Laws

At least 12 states have enacted statutes governing all gift cards, while over 70 legislative proposals in 31 states are still pending. However, all of this legislation fails to recognize that store-issued gift cards and bank-issued gift cards are apples and oranges. A new research study shows the legislation will have little impact on gift cards issued by retailers, but may threaten the survivability of prepaid cards issued by banks. TowerGroup says store gift cards and bank card gift cards are very different animals. Gift cards offered by specific retail merchants are a loyalty product to increase sales with the costs absorbed by the sales. Gift cards issued by banks are universally accepted and offer extra benefits such as lost card replacement and therefore carry legitimate expenses that are offset by fees. However, TowerGroup says there is evidence that consumer disclosures – particularly to the ultimate gift card recipient – have been lacking. The research report suggest that the industry must recognize this deficiency and act quickly to correct it, even as it fights to avoid prohibition of fees.

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