Gift cards have been a double-edged sword for many consumers in past years. They are great for purchasing things at your favorite stores and wonderful gifts for those hard-to-shop-for-people. Forget you have them, or misplace them, though, and they may deplete down to zilch in a matter of months.
Thankfully, the Credit CARD Act (Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009) has helped to reform credit card protection for American consumers. Some of the key elements of the law include the banning of unfair rate increases, prevention of unfair fee traps, plain sight and plain language disclosures, accountability, and protections for students and young people, according to a fact sheet issued by The White House.
Specific to gift cards, the Credit CARD Act limits fees on gift cards and stored value cards that might otherwise surprise consumers. Card issuers must disclose fees on these cards, and issuers are no longer permitted to charge inactivity fees unless the card has been inactive for at least 12 months.
Tip: If you have a gift card that has expired, or may have expired due to inactivity fees, consider calling the issuer to determine if your consumer rights are protected by this act. You might be able to restore the value to your gift card or have a new gift card issued to you!