Gift cards must be redeemable for five years, according to new Michigan law

By: Erin logan Email
By: Erin logan Email

We give gift cards and we get gift cards, but sometimes they go to waste, or a portion of the money is given to the state and the retailer if they expire.

After many hours in session, Michigan lawmakers say they're thrilled they were able to cut consumers a break.

Rachel Hammond is a gift card giver and receiver. She says with high gas prices, it makes sense to give the gift of gas, but there have always been concerns, regardless of whether the card is for a fill-up, food, or a fun day at the mall.

She says, “It's a gift from me. I wouldn't want them to get to the store and haven't used it for a year or to get it expired. Then, it would be embarrassing for me. I would feel bad because they wouldn't get the full amount of gift.”

Hammond was thrilled to hear that, starting November 1st, her gift will be received in full in her home state of Michigan.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed legislation Monday that requires stores to accept gift cards for at least five years after selling them. Stores also can't refuse to accept a gift card during a sale, close-out or liquidation.

Inactivity fees and other fees are also prohibited by the new law.

Across the state line, consumers in Indiana are bothered that their state is now a few steps behind Michigan with its gift card law. Expiration dates, service charges, and other fees will still be up to the retailer.

Kimberly Davis says, “With Michigan being so close, you know, I think they should just give people a break.”

She says especially for children's sake. Her daughter likes to hold on to her gift cards, but still remembers she has them.

Davis’ daughter, Kailah says, “I like to buy Barbies.” We asked her, “Are you hoping you get a gift card to buy Barbies?” She nodded, “yes” with excitement.

Davis says, “We better use it right away or it will expire.”

State legislators in Indiana say that in 2005 a bill was filed to have expiration dates removed completely, but it didn't pass.


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