Legislation protecting consumers from exploitive gift card practices goes into effect...

Legislation protecting consumers from exploitive gift card practices goes into effect Saturday, New York State officials said. Credit: AP/David Zalubowski

Gift cards purchased in New York State will not expire for at least nine years, up from five years previously, and will not decline in value due to various fees, state officials said Friday.

Legislation protecting consumers from exploitive gift card practices, signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul one year ago, goes into effect Saturday, state officials said.

“Gift cards offer consumers convenience during the holidays,” said Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez. “ … Gift cards now have a longer shelf life and recipients are afforded more time to find the perfect gift to treat themselves as their gift giver intended.”

The legislation guarantees that gift cards will stay valid for a minimum of nine years from the date of purchase and may be redeemed for cash if the remaining value is less than $5.

Meanwhile, all fees, including redemption, service and administrative charges — with the exception of a one-time activation fee of no more than $9 — can't be imposed on gift cards under new laws, officials said.

"Gift card fees and expiration dates make it difficult for consumers to use products they have purchased, and the timing of the adoption of these new laws will ensure consumers are protected as they make holiday purchases of gift cards," said State Sen. Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), the author of both bills.

The State Division of Consumer Protection said consumers should be careful when purchasing gift cards, including:

  • Researching retailers to verify their legitimacy.
  • Checking the packaging to ensure security seals are intact.
  • Using caution when purchasing gift cards from third parties or online auctions, as it may be difficult to verify the dollar amount remaining.
  • Reviewing the terms and conditions before purchasing to understand what their recourse is if the gift card is lost or stolen.
  • Avoiding scammers who often seek payment in the form of gift cards or prepaid cards.

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