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16 February 2024

Are gift card expiry dates about to become longer?

Consumer NZ often hears complaints from members about expired gift cards. We’re told far too many stories of hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars being lost because of stingy gift-card expiry periods.

When this happens, the business pockets the money. Conservative estimates put revenue from expired gift cards in the millions, every ear.

Now something is being done.

The Fair Trading (Gift Card Expiry) Amendment Bill is a private bill, originally brought by National MP Melissa Lee. It seeks to make the expiry period on all gift cards 3 years, as a minimum.

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Consumer NZ spoke at a select committee meeting on the bill this week, urging for a 5-year expiry for gift cards to be considered. At present, there is no minimum expiry date, which means some gift cards can expire after just 6 months.

We cited the case of a person who purchased $1,500 worth of Mobil gift cards. He mistakenly assumed the cards had a 2-year expiry period, when in fact they were only valid for 12 months. He contacted Mobil as soon as he realised the cards had expired, but it refused to do anything to help.

Another person contacted us about a $180 SkyCity gift card she received for Christmas in 2022. Due to family illness, plans to redeem the gift card were put on hold. By the time she came to use the card, it had expired. She contacted SkyCity, explained the circumstances and asked for an extension. SkyCity refused, even though it now sells vouchers that are valid for 3 years.

We don’t think these scenarios are OK. We want to see gift card terms and conditions that are fair, with a sufficiently long expiry so recipients don’t end up losing their money.

After the select committee hearing, SkyCity publicly apologised for how it treated the gift card holder who lost her credit. It said, “We are sorry we got this one wrong though and will make it up to the customer with an exceptional experience.”

Consumer NZ has been campaigning on gift cards, calling out retailers with stingy expiry periods and asking them to extend how long they offer. We’re also keeping a naughty and nice gift card list for you to check out before you buy.

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End unfair gift card expiry dates

Gift cards are a great option for the last-minute shopper, but unfair expiry dates mean that retailers can wind up reaping the rewards.

Learn more

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