Gift Card FeesGift card fees have been something that consumers complained about a lot in the past, so much so that the government stepped in to make rules so that the gift card value didn't completely disappear in a short period of time. The rules governing gift cards are currently set by each state. The Federal government passed the Credit Card Act of 2009 which began to take effect in the summer of 2010 and was fully enforceable at the beginning of 2011. This law dictates the minimum requirement for all states in regard to gift cards. If state laws offer stronger protection for consumers when purchasing gift cards, these state laws will remain in effect and override the Credit Card Act of 2009.
The term "gift card" can get confusing because there are two main types of gift cards (store issued gift cards and bank issued gift cards) which often work very differently. In most cases, it's the bank issued gift cards by Visa, Master Card and American Express that can have a lot of hidden fees while store issued gift cards usually have less of these fees.
There are two main elements to the Credit Card Act of 2009 which includes both bank issued and store issued gift cards:
1. Gift cards issued can not expire for five years from the date that the gift card is purchased or from the last date any money was loaded onto the gift card.
2. Gift cards can not have any fees during the first 12 months from the time of purchase.
The following list gives a summary of the current state laws regarding gift cards:
Alabama :: Alaska :: Arizona :: Arkansas :: California :: Colorado :: Connecticut :: Delaware :: Florida :: Georgia :: Hawaii :: Idaho :: Illinois :: Indiana :: Iowa :: Kansas :: Kentucky :: Louisiana :: Maine :: Maryland :: Massachusetts :: Michigan :: Minnesota :: Mississippi :: Missouri :: Montana :: Nebraska :: Nevada :: New Hampshire :: New Jersey :: New Mexico :: New York :: North Carolina :: North Dakota :: Ohio :: Oklahoma :: Oregon :: Pennsylvania :: Rhode Island :: South Carolina :: South Dakota :: Tennessee :: Texas :: Utah :: Vermont :: Virginia :: Washington :: West Virginia :: Wisconsin :: Wyoming
These are some of the common fees that gift cards have that can quickly decrease the value of the gift card if you are not careful:
- Gift Card Monthly Maintenance Fee: Some gift cards charge a monthly maintenance fee if the gift card has a balance after a certain amount of time.
- Gift card Shipping & Handling Fees: Ordering a gift card online will likely result in a shipping & handling fee.
- Gift card Service Fees: When ordering gift cards by phone or over the Internet, there will often be a service fee added to the cost of the card.
- Exchange Gift Card For Cash Fees: Most gift cards aren't redeemable for cash. The few that will let you redeem your remaining balance usually come with large processing fee.
- Gift Card ATM Fees: If the gift card allows the owner to withdraw money at an ATM, there will be an ATM fee for each transaction.
- Gift Card Expiration: Many gift cards expire and once they do, your money disappears.
- Gift Card Limits On Use: Some gift cards can only be used at specific stores and sometimes can't be used for Internet purchases.
- Lost Or Stolen Gift Cards: A gift card is, in most cases, the same as carrying cash with no protection. If you lose your gift card or it is stolen, you're most likely out of luck.