Read about how gift cards from retail businesses and gift cards from malls are covered under the Consumer Protection Act.
Most gift cards cannot have an expiry date
The Consumer Protection Act bans most retail business gift cards from having an expiry date. This means a gift card can be used to its full value no matter when you decide to use it.
The act also requires that all restrictions and conditions must be stated in clear and visible writing for the customer.
Gift cards that can have an expiry date include:
Types of cards not covered by the gift card rules include:
No extra charges to use a gift card
Under the act, most businesses can’t charge extra fees, such as:
No sales tax to buy a gift card
Businesses cannot charge harmonized sales tax (HST) when you buy a gift card. Check your receipt to make sure.
HST can be charged on items or services you purchase using a gift card.
When can a business charge a fee?
Businesses are allowed to charge for:
Always read and understand the terms and conditions before you buy a gift card.
Special rules apply to shopping mall gift cards.
Shopping mall gift cards keep their full value for 15 months from the date of purchase. The mall can apply a dormancy fee after 15 months for a maximum amount of $2.50 per month.
You can request a 3-month extension to your card by contacting the shopping mall card supplier during the 15th month. If you get an extension, the dormancy fee will not apply for the 3 months.
The shopping mall may charge a one-time activation fee of maximum $1.50.
The fees and expiry date must be clearly printed on the card. Read and understand the terms and conditions before you purchase a shopping mall gift card.
Read the terms and conditions before buying a gift card. It may have information on what to do in the event of a business closure.
If a retail business is closed because of financial difficulties or bankruptcy, you can contact the trustee in bankruptcy for assistance.
A shopping mall gift card can be used at any store in the mall. If a store in the mall goes out of business, the card is still valid at other stores in the mall.
You can get a refund for the illegal fee within 15 days by making a written or verbal complaint to the business.