Making the most of gift cards
A gift card can be a convenient gift or way to pay for goods or
services, but it's important to understand how they work. Here
are a few things you should know about gift cards.
What is a gift card
A gift card is a card loaded with an amount of cash. It
enables you (or the person you give it to) to buy goods and
services. Some gift cards can only be used at select retailers, but
some can be used anywhere that accepts major credit
Lost gift cards
If you lose a gift card or it is stolen, you will not be able to
replace it. So be very careful with your gift cards and treat them
as you would cash in your wallet.
Expired gift cards
When you receive a gift card check the expiry date. If it's not
printed on the card, ask the sales attendant to write it on the
card and keep the receipt for the purchase.
You should use the total value of the card by the expiry date as
the remaining amount is usually not refundable. You can check the
terms and conditions on the issuer's website or on the back of the
If you have money remaining on an expired gift card, ask the
retailer if they will issue you with a replacement card and
transfer the remaining balance to the new card. Some retailers will
do this to show their good customer service. If not, the card
is no longer any good to you, so you can cut it up and dispose of
Some reloadable cards expire after a certain number of years
regardless of when you last uploaded money to the card. Find out
more about prepaid or reloadable cards.
Gift cards in NSW
From 31 March 2018, most gift cards and gift vouchers bought in
NSW will have a mandatory minimum expiry period of 3 years. In NSW
there is also now a ban on charging any post-purchase fees when
redeeming a gift card which would reduce its value, including
account-keeping fees and activation fees.
For more information on these changes, see the
NSW Office of Fair Trading website.
Getting 'change' from gift
When you buy something with a gift card, the retailer is
required to give you the rest of the money back in cash, if they
state this in the card's terms and conditions.
If the terms and conditions don't mention getting cash back as
change, the retailer may insist on leaving the remaining credit on
the gift card or giving you a credit note instead.
What if your gift card
retailer goes out of business?
When a retailer goes out of business they usually publicly
announce it, so you will see stories about their insolvency in the
media. You can also check if they are insolvent by searching ASIC's insolvency
Here are the things you can do when you hold a gift card from a
retailer who becomes insolvent.
Make a gift card chargeback claim
If you have purchased a gift card using a credit card, you may
have chargeback rights. This means you can sometimes get your money
back from your credit card issuer. You should contact the issuing
bank, building society or credit union straight away as there are
conditions and time limits on making a chargeback claim.
Register as an unsecured creditor
If you have a gift card and don't want to ask the person who
gave it to you to request a chargeback, you can register with an
external administrator or liquidator as an unsecured creditor. The
insolvency process will determine if you get a full refund, a
partial refund or no refund at all.
Consider an offer to redeem the gift card
Sometimes a retailer will continue trading under the control of
an administrator and the gift cards the retailer sold will be
honoured. The administrator may place new conditions on the use of
gift cards, like requiring you to spend an additional dollar for
every dollar you redeem. If this is the case, you will need to work
out if it is worth taking up the offer.
Whether you're giving or receiving a gift card,
it's good to know what to look out for and what options are
available to you if your gift card retailer goes out of
Last updated: 20 Mar 2018