New Rules On Gift Cards Now Effective

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WASHINGTON – New federal rules regulating fees and expiration dates for all gift cards went into effect Sunday, whether the cards are sold by a merchant, shopping center, credit union or bank.

The highlights are: an inactivity fee cannot be charged until the card has not been used for 12 months; gift cards cannot expire for at least five years; no more than one fee (of any type) can be charged to the cardholder in a single month; and, information printed on the card must disclose fees and expiration date and provide a toll-free phone number or website where card holders can get more information.

The rules were part of the Credit Card Act passed earlier this year.

The new rules do not cover reloadable cards, such as prepaid phone cards or rechargeable debit cards from the big credit card companies. Rebate and loyalty reward cards also are exempt.

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