Can a gift card "expire"?

I got a gift card for my birthday 18 months ago and when I went to redeem it they said it had expired. Is that legal?

This answer is taken from Gift Cards, produced by the Ministry of Consumer Services.

On October 1, 2007, the Consumer Protection Act banned expiry dates and most fees on gift cards bought after that date to make sure you get their full value, regardless of when you use them. The only fees a business is allowed to charge are to customize a gift card or replace one that has been lost or stolen.

Some of the fees that a business is no longer allowed to charge are activation fees and dormancy fees.

Gift cards bought from shopping malls (rather than individual businesses):

  • may come with a one-time activation fee of no more than $1.50
  • must retain their value for a minimum of 15 months.

You may get a three-month extension by requesting it from the mall during the 15th month after you bought the card. After that, the mall is allowed to charge you a dormancy fee of no more than $2.50 a month. Check your card for these terms and conditions – they must be clearly displayed.

The new law does not apply to loyalty cards used to collect rewards or points, and does not apply to cards that are subject to federal law, such as prepaid phone cards. Cards or certificates that are redeemable for specific services, such as a massage at a spa, are also not covered.

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