Laws applying to gift vouchers and gift cards
If a business uses vouchers and gift cards, it is providing consumers with a ‘non-cash payment facility’.
From 1 November 2019, all gift cards and vouchers sold must be valid for at least three years. The expiry date must be clearly shown. If the card has an earlier expiry date written on it, consumers will still get the mandatory three-year period.
Gift cards and vouchers are not covered by the three-year period if they are:
- sold for a good or service at a genuine discount, or
- given to customers in a limited promotion (for example: valid in-store today).
Businesses cannot charge post-purchase or administration fees that reduce the value of the gift card. These include activation, account keeping and balance enquiry fees. Businesses can still charge other costs, such as fees for overseas transactions, payment by credit card, or replacing a lost or damaged card.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has set requirements for vouchers and gift cards, based on the Corporations Act 2001.
Vouchers and gift cards:
- must clearly display the expiry date. This includes the activation expiry date for cards that need to be activated before use
- can be used more than once
- cannot be reloaded (i.e. the value cannot be increased or added to)
- cannot be redeemed for cash unless there is a remaining amount that, in the business’ reasonable opinion, cannot be conveniently used
Using a gift voucher or gift card after the expiry date
A business is not obliged to honour a gift card or voucher after the expiry date, unless otherwise negotiated.
If the gift card or voucher does not have an expiry date (including an activation expiry date), the consumer may use it for a reasonable length of time after it was originally purchased.
Using a gift card or voucher when the business changes owners
The new owner must honour existing gift cards and vouchers if the business was:
- sold as a ‘going concern’ (i.e. the assets and liabilities of the business were sold by the previous owner to the new owner)
- previously owned by a company rather than an individual, and the new owner purchased the shares in the company.