New York State Just Passed a Law Making Gift Cards Easier to Use

published Dec 28, 2019
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When you give someone a gift card, you expect them to be able to use the money in full and not have to take on the burden of fees or looming expiration dates. This month, New York State passed a new law limiting fees and expiration dates on gift cards sold in the state.

The new law requires that gift cards don’t expire for at least five years after they’re issued. It also limits fees gift cards can incur. As the New York governor’s website explains, “the time period in which fees can be charged to unused gift card balances has been increased from 13 to 25 months and any monthly service fees that are applied after this time must be waived if the consumer uses the gift card within three years of the issue date.” Retailers must also now give clear instructions in gift cards’ terms and conditions for how to replace a missing card.

“These new protections will help prevent New Yorkers from being nickeled and dimed by hidden costs and fees,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “No one expects an asterisk when buying a gift card and I’m proud to sign this legislation to help ensure consumers get their money’s worth.”

New York is not the first state to pass consumer-protection laws for gift cards. In California, gift cards must never expire, and gift cards under $10 may be redeemed at the store for cash, among other regulations, according to Consumer Reports. Several states, including Connecticut and Florida, outlaw gift card fees altogether.

To find the latest gift card laws in your state, you can visit the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website here.