Gift Card Laws:
An Interactive State-by-State Guide

Get any gift cards this holiday season? They can be well worth the money and a great last-minute gift idea, but do you know your rights when it comes to gift cards?

In some states, you can actually redeem gift cards for cash once they reach a certain amount - typically between $5 and $10. If you live in one of these states, simply take the gift card to the retailer and request that you receive cash for the remaining balance.

But there’s also a few catches when it comes to gift card laws – if you leave your card sitting around too long, the state may be able to claim the balance for itself. You should also check to see if your state allows companies selling these cards to charge you fees for inactivity or processing, as this can make that $25 gift card a little less valuable.

While federal regulations are in place, most of the rules regarding gift cards depend on where you live – and has done the research for you this holiday season.

Click on your state below to find out everything you need to know.

Federal Regulations: ( rules that apply regardless of where you live )

  • Gift cards cannot expire before five years from date of purchase
  • Reloadable gift card funds are valid for five years from the date of the most recent reload
  • All gift cards must disclose fees upon either the card itself or associated packaging
  • In states that allow post-sale fees, these fees cannot be imposed until one year of inactivity
  • No state is allowed to impose more than one post-sale fee per month

Some states allow post-sale fees, which are fees that can be charged after the card has been purchased. These include:

  • Maintenance fees (for dormant or inactive cards)
  • An activation fee when the card is first used
  • Transaction fees (a fee for every time the card is used)

* Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon, and South Carolina escheat provisions, which govern the states' rights to unclaimed property, do not specifically include gift cards. Future legislation may change these states' rights to claim unused gift cards.