As ‘Black Friday’ Nears, Attorney General Fox Reminds Montanans Gift Cards Don’t Expire
As Montanans prepare for holiday shopping day on Friday, Attorney General Tim Fox reminds them 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 not only offer flexibility for the recipient in terms of what they can choose to use it for, but they also offer flexibility in terms of when they can use them,” Attorney General Tim Fox said. “So, if you receive a gift card this holiday season, remember that they don’t expire here in Montana. If you don’t use gift cards right away, don’t make the mistake of throwing them out, even if it’s past the date that’s printed on them.”
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 federal law, cards usable with multiple merchants and prepaid credit cards are valid for at least five years from the date the card is purchased. Money added to a prepaid card must also be good for five years.
While the federal rules 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. For more information, visit: https://doj.mt.gov/consumer/gift-certificates/
Groupon and similar programs fall into the category of promotional offers and are exempt from gift card rules.
Fox encourages businesses or consumers who have further questions to contact the Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection by calling (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.