What You Need to Know: New Rules for Gift Cards
"New Federal Reserve rules provide important protections when you purchase or use gift cards. Here are some key changes that apply to gift cards sold on or after August 22, 2010:
Covered by the new rules
Store gift cards, which can be used only at a particular store or group of stores, such as a book store or clothing retailer.
Gift cards with a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover brand logo. These cards generally can be used wherever the brand is accepted. (Not all cards with a brand logo are covered; see "Other prepaid cards" below for exceptions.)
Limits on expiration dates. The money on your gift card will be good for at least five years from the date the card is purchased. Any money that might be added to the card at a later date must also be good for at least five years.
Replacement cards. If your gift card has an expiration date you still may be able to use unspent money that is left on the card after the card expires. For example, the card may expire in five years but the money may not expire for seven. If your card expires and there is unspent money, you can request a replacement card at no charge. Check your card to see if expiration dates apply.
Fees disclosed. All fees must be clearly disclosed on the gift card or its packaging.
Limits on fees. Gift card fees typically are subtracted from the money on the card. Under the new rules, many gift card fees are limited. Generally, fees can be charged if
you haven't used your card for at least one year, and
you are only charged one fee per month.
These restrictions apply to fees such as,
dormancy or inactivity fees for not using your card,
fees for using your card (sometimes called usage fees),
fees for adding money to your card, and