California & Gift Cards

  1. Ok, I think it was Bjara that asked about California law & gift card expiration....

    So here's the general gist and below are the applicable code section for your reading enjoyment:

    Generally, gift certificates, including gift cards, in CA cannot expire. But there are certain kinds of cards that can expire:
    1) gift cards/certs that come out of a loyalty or promo program--where you're not giving them money
    2) gift cards/certs that are sold at below face value at a volume discount if the expiration date is not more than 30 days after the sale
    3) gift cards/certs for food products.

    And generally stores can charge up to $1/month in maintenance fees for the card with certain conditions.

    I think store credits may operate differently from a gift card... I'm not 100% positive on that, but could not find any specific statutes. It's best that you ask the store their policy.... Ok, enough boring legal stuff--back to purses!


    California Civil Code section 1749.45

    (a) As used in this title, "gift certificate" includes gift cards, but does not include any gift card usable with multiple sellers of goods or services, provided the expiration date, if any, is printed on the card. This exemption does not apply to a gift card usable only with affiliated sellers of goods or services.
    (b) Nothing in this title prohibits those fees or practices expressly permitted by Section 17538.9 of the Business and Professions Code with respect to a prepaid calling card, as defined in that section, that is issued solely to provide an access number and authorization code for prepaid calling services.


    California Civil Code section 1749.5

    (a) It is unlawful for any person or entity to sell a gift certificate to a purchaser that contains any of the following:
    (1) An expiration date.
    (2) A service fee, including, but not limited to, a service fee for dormancy, except as provided in subdivision (e).
    (b) Any gift certificate sold after January 1, 1997, is redeemable in cash for its cash value, or subject to replacement with a new gift certificate at no cost to the purchaser or holder.
    (c) A gift certificate sold without an expiration date is valid until redeemed or replaced.
    (d) This section does not apply to any of the following gift certificates issued on or after January 1, 1998, provided the expiration date appears in capital letters in at least 10-point font
    on the front of the gift certificate:
    (1) Gift certificates that are distributed by the issuer to a
    consumer pursuant to an awards, loyalty, or promotional program
    without any money or other thing of value being given in exchange for the gift certificate by the consumer.
    (2) Gift certificates that are sold below face value at a volume
    discount to employers or to nonprofit and charitable organizations
    for fundraising purposes if the expiration date on those gift
    certificates is not more than 30 days after the date of sale.
    (3) Gift certificates that are issued for a food product.
    (e) Paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) does not apply to a dormancy
    fee on a gift card that meets all of the following criteria:
    (1) The remaining value of the gift card is five dollars ($5) or
    less each time the fee is assessed.
    (2) The fee does not exceed one dollar ($1) per month.
    (3) There has been no activity on the gift card for 24 consecutive
    months, including, but not limited to, purchases, the adding of
    value, or balance inquiries.
    (4) The holder may reload or add value to the gift card.
    (5) A statement is printed on the gift card in at least 10-point
    font stating the amount of the fee, how often the fee will occur,
    that the fee is triggered by inactivity of the gift card, and at what
    point the fee will be charged. The statement may appear on the
    front or back of the gift card, but shall appear in a location where
    it is visible to any purchaser prior to the purchase thereof.
    (f) An issuer of gift certificates may accept funds from one or more contributors toward the purchase of a gift certificate intended to be a gift for a recipient, provided that each contributor is provided with a full refund of the amount that he or she paid toward the purchase of the gift certificate upon the occurrence of all of the following:
    (1) The funds are contributed for the purpose of being redeemed by the recipient by purchasing a gift certificate.
    (2) The time in which the recipient may redeem the funds by
    purchasing a gift certificate is clearly disclosed in writing to the
    contributors and the recipient.
    (3) The recipient does not redeem the funds within the time
    described in paragraph (2).
    (g) The changes made to this section by the act adding this
    subdivision shall apply only to gift certificates issued on or after
    January 1, 2004.