Can Gift Cards Never Legally Expire in Minnesota?
Is it true that gift cards can NEVER legally expire here in Minnesota?
Many of us think of gift cards only during the holiday season here in the Bold North. They're a handy thing to give that tough-to-buy-for person on your gift list, because it allows THEM to buy whatever they'd like, right?
And businesses tend to like them, as well, because while they get money when you buy a gift card, many of them are never actually used. According to CNN, almost two-thirds of American consumers have at least one unspent gift card tucked away in a drawer, pocket, wallet or purse. But at least half of those consumers lose a gift card before they use it, CNN said, noting there's roughly $21 billion of unspent money currently tied up in unused and lost gift cards in the U.S.
I started keeping my collection of gift cards in my car, thinking that it would be easier find-- and use them-- there because I'd most likely use the car to get to whichever business for which I have a gift card.
But, like most of us, I don't use my gift cards very often. (I've been carting many of those gift cards in that photo above around for at least a year!) This got me wondering, do gift cards ever expire?
Minnesota law generally prohibits the sale of a gift card/gift certificate that has an expiration date or that is subject to any type of service fee (including a dormancy fee).
Of course, there ARE some exceptions:
- Cards issued by a bank or other financial institution that can be used at multiple locations, provided that the issuer discloses any expiration date and fees associated with the card. These cards will likely carry the logo of the issuing bank or a payment card network (e.g., VISA or MasterCard).
- Those given to a consumer for loyalty, promotional, award, incentive, rebate, or similar purposes without the consumer giving any money or other tangible thing of value for the gift card or gift certificate.
- Those sold below face value or at a volume discount to employers or to nonprofit and charitable organizations for fundraising purposes.
- Those issued by an employer to an employee in recognition of services performed by the employee.
So if you, too, have a pile of gift cards, at least many of them will likely never expire here in Minnesota. That doesn't mean that we won't lose them, forget we have them, or have the business close, mind you, but at least they won't expire!