Bullock Reminds Holiday Shoppers: In Montana Gift Cards Don’t Expire
HELENA – With holiday shopping underway, Attorney General Steve Bullock reminded Montana consumers on Monday that, under state law, gift cards and gift certificates from an individual merchant do not expire – despite what may be printed on them.
“Gift cards are among the most popular holiday presents, but far too often, Montanans will throw them away if they believe they’ve expired,” Bullock said.
Gift cards that can be used with multiple sellers of goods or services, like those from a Chamber of Commerce or shopping center, or prepaid credit cards are not considered gift certificates in Montana. But under new federal laws, cards usable with multiple merchants and prepaid credit cards are now valid for at least five years from the date the card is purchased. And money added to a prepaid card must also be good for five years.
While the new federal rules — which went into effect in August — put limits on when a gift card or gift certificate can expire and what fees can be charged on cards that aren’t used immediately, Montana’s already strong laws prohibiting any fees or expiration dates remain valid.
Montana law also allows gift cards or gift certificates that have less than $5 remaining on them — but were originally valued at over $5 — to be redeemed for cash.
Some cards and coupons are not considered gift cards or certificates, and they can expire and are not redeemable for cash. These include prepaid telecommunications cards, like prepaid calling cards, and coupons provided to consumers as part of an award, loyalty or promotion program.
Bullock encouraged businesses or consumers who have further questions to contact the Office of Consumer Protection at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500.