CARD act helps protect consumers from fees and restrictions

Gift card shopping is in full swing with the holiday season upon us. As of August 2010, the CARD act, a new gift card legislation has been put in place to ensure that consumers are protected against costly gift card restrictions. Here are some key points you might like to know about the new legislation.

What cards are covered?

All store specific gift cards, as well as prepaid gift cards such as Visa, Mastercard, etc., are covered under the new legislation. This does not include reloadable prepaid cards, such as the Walmart MoneyCard, which are intended as a checking account substitute. Also reward or bonus cards are not included under the new laws.

Expiration dates:

All gift cards that fall under the previously stated requirements are now required to have at least a five year expiration period. Also any amount added to the card at a later date must also be protected for five years.

Fees:

According to the new legislation, all fees associated with a particular gift card must be clearly stated on the gift card itself and/or its packaging. New limits on fees have also been applied pertaining to things such as inactivity, usage and maintenance. Some fees, even if limited, still may apply. Check your gift card and packaging before purchasing to make sure.

Replacement cards:

Consumers are now entitled to replacement cards for expired gift cards. For example, if a gift card has reached its expiration date, yet still has funds associated with, merchants are now required to offer replacement cards at no charge.

With these new laws in place, consumers can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing their gifts will be protected and allowing you to shop with confidence. Keep in mind cards purchased prior to August 22, 2010 may still be subject to previous fees and restrictions. These gift cards can be redeemed for cash before they expire at GiftCardRescue, and as always, discount gift cards can be purchased for up to 30% off.