On August 22nd, the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 will take effect. Part of the Act imposes new rules on gift card issuers. As of August 22nd gift cards must be good for at least 5 years. In addition the ability to impose fees and charges on gift cards is much restricted. An inactivity fee can only be charged if the card is dormant for 1 year and such fee – along with any other fees and charges – is disclosed to the card buyer at the time of purchase. In addition no more than one fee can be charged in any month. Also you can’t get hit with a fee for replacing an expired card that still has money on it. There are some exemptions, including prepaid phone cards and some reloadable cards (for a full explanation of the Act click here.)
Existing gift cards that show an expiration date of less than 5 years can be sold but the dormancy and inactivity rules as well as the service fee restrictions still apply.