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5 May 2022

Check gift card expiry dates to avoid giving Mum a dud this Mother's Day

Consumer NZ is urging shoppers to check gift card expiry dates before purchasing them for Mother’s Day this weekend.

“We know that over three quarters of consumers regularly receive gift cards, but they can be left short-changed if they don’t redeem the card before it expires,” said Consumer head of content Caitlin Cherry.

“It really pays to check the fine print to avoid losing out. We estimate New Zealanders could be losing up to $10 million annually on unredeemed gift cards. On average, half of shoppers (55%) unable to redeem a gift card have more than $20 unspent.”

Australian law requires gift cards to be valid for a minimum of three years. This means some companies operating on both sides of the Tasman are giving Aussie customers longer to redeem their gift cards than their Kiwi counterparts. In the US and Ireland, gift cards are required to have an expiry date of at least five years. Most Canadian provinces have banned expiry dates altogether.

“But there are currently no equivalent rules in New Zealand so retailers can set their own expiry dates,” said Cherry. “We’d like to see this change. Gift cards should be valid for a minimum of five years. Some retailers already do this, and others have removed expiry dates altogether, so it’s possible for retailers to play fair.

“Another option is to skip the gift card altogether and give cash instead. It never expires and can be used everywhere.”

Consumer’s campaign to End unfair gift card expiry dates is calling for businesses to drop their unfair gift card expiry dates. In response to the campaign, 37 retailers either dropped or extended their gift card expiry dates.

Consumer NZ tips

  • Check the expiry date before purchasing a gift card.
  • If you find an expired gift card, ask the retailer to honour it or issue a replacement card. Some retailers offer a grace period after expiry. Others will issue replacement cards.
  • If you lose your gift card, contact the retailer to see if there’s anything they can do. Terms and conditions may state a gift card won’t be replaced if lost or stolen but some companies will consider replacing a card if you can provide the card number or a receipt. Be aware a fee may apply to reissue a card.
  • If you have a gift card for a retailer that goes bust before you can spend the money, you’ll have to register with the receiver as an unsecured creditor. You might get some money back once the secured creditors are paid, but the chances are slim. If you bought a gift card using a credit card, you can ask your bank for a chargeback – a refund of the purchase price.