DOJ: News Release

McGrath: Gift Cards, Certificates Don’t Expire in Montana

HELENA – As Montana consumers get ready for holiday gift-giving, Attorney General Mike McGrath reminded businesses and consumers what Montana law says about gift certificates and gift cards.

Since 2005, under Montana law, gift cards and gift certificates do not expire in Montana, despite what may be printed on them. Their value cannot be reduced by any fee or by failure to use them, and if a gift certificate was originally for more than $5 but has less than $5 remaining on it, it can be redeemed for cash.

“We know gift certificates and gift cards are popular presents, at the holidays and year-round,” McGrath said. “We also know that consumers sometimes throw a gift card or certificate away, thinking it’s expired or unusable.”

Some cards and coupons are not considered gift cards or certificates under Montana law, and so they can expire and are not redeemable for cash. These include:

  • prepaid telecommunications and technology cards, like prepaid telephone calling cards, prepaid technical support cards and prepaid Internet disks that have been distributed to or purchased by a consumer;
  • coupons provided to a consumer as part of an award, loyalty or promotion program without any money or consideration being given in exchange for the card
  • gift certificates usable with multiple sellers of goods or services, like gift certificates from a Chamber of Commerce or shopping center, or
  • gift certificates or gift cards donated by a store without taking a tax deduction.

(Release modified May 6, 2008, to delete reference to “certificates limited to a specific good or service.” Montana law does not include gift certificates “limited to a specific good or service” among those that can expire.)

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