Buying and using gift cards

These case studies have been developed to assist consumers understand where and how NSW gift card laws apply in practice.

Note: on this page, the terms 'gift card' and gift voucher' have the same meaning.

Cards bought before 31 March 2018

Scott bought a gift card from a fishing tackle store in NSW in February 2018. The gift card had a 12-month expiry period. As the gift card was purchased before 31 March 2018, the gift card's expiry period remains at 12 months from the date Scott purchased it.

Cards bought from 31 March 2018

Example 1

Sanita bought a gift card at a sporting store in NSW in April 2018. As the gift card was purchased after 30 March 2018, the store must give Sanita at least 3 years to use the card.

Example 2

Josette received a gift card that was purchased in a NSW store on 1 April 2018. The gift card had a 6-month expiry date written on it. As the gift card laws began on 31 March 2018, the 6-month expiry date is void. Josette has 3 years to redeem the card.

Cards bought in-store inside and outside NSW 

Example 1

Meredith lives in Dubbo and buys a gift card at the local shoe store. As the gift card was purchased by a NSW consumer inside a NSW store, it must have a minimum 3-year expiry period and no post-purchase administration fees.

Example 2

Kerri-Anne lives in Queensland but visits family regularly in NSW. She buys several gift cards from her local shops in Queensland to give to her family as presents. As she purchased the gift cards outside of NSW, the new laws do not apply.

Cards bought online

Example 1

Abbey buys a gift card online and provides a NSW address at checkout. The minimum 3-year expiry period and ban on post-purchase administration fees apply.

Example 2

Trevor purchases a gift voucher online and provides only a billing address in Queensland. As the address is outside of NSW, the new laws do not apply.

Example 3

Aliya buys an e-gift voucher from her favourite online shop. At the checkout, she is asked to enter her email address but is not asked to provide a physical address.

As the online store cannot tell if she is in NSW or not, the 3-year minimum expiry period should be applied.

Cards bought for discounted goods, services and experiences

Example 1

Sarah buys a gift voucher for a pamper package that includes a facial and massage. Each individual service costs $150 each, but if purchased together as the pamper package, the total cost is $250.

The voucher can have an expiry period of less than 3 years because gift vouchers for a specific service that is being offered at a genuine discount are excluded from the new laws.

Example 2

Kayleen purchases a voucher specifically for a rice cooker that is being offered at a discount to the normal retail price. The voucher comes with a 2 month expiry period.

This short expiry period is valid because gift vouchers for specific goods sold at a genuine discount are exempt from the requirement to have a 3-year minimum expiry period.

Example 3

Claudia purchases a gift card that is specifically for a 'Sunrise & Champagne' hot air ballooning experience that is being sold at a discount. The card comes with a 3 month expiry period.

This short expiry period is valid as the card is for a specific experience that is being offered at a discount.

Cards bought for time limited offers

Alex buys a gift card in May 2018 for a musical that is only playing from May to October 2018. The gift card’s terms and conditions state that the card expires at the end of the musical’s run.

As the gift card is for a specific, timebound event, it is not required to have a 3-year minimum expiry.

Cards received under promotions and giveaways

Example 1

Mohammed and other pedestrians are each handed a $15 gift card at the train station. The card can be used to buy anything from an online retail store.

As the gift cards are being given away for free, the cards can have an expiry period of less than 3 years.

Example 2

Daniel receives a $20 gift voucher as part of a promotion for spending $100 in a department store. The voucher is valid for 30 days.

The short expiry period is valid because the voucher is a gift with purchase as part of a promotion.

Cards received under a loyalty or reward program 

Example 1

Brad receives a $20 gift card as a birthday present as part of a customer loyalty program. He is told the gift card expires in 30 days.

As this gift card was provided as part of a customer loyalty program, the new laws do not apply.

Example 2

Catherine is part of her company’s employee reward program, which allows her to earn points and use the points to buy products from a catalogue. She uses her points to buy a gift card which has a 12-month expiry period.

This short expiry period is valid as cards offered as part of an employee reward program are not covered by the new laws.

Cards received in exchange for returned goods 

Yolande receives a gift card as a credit note for returning goods after changing her mind.

As the gift card was given in exchange for a returned good, it can have an expiry period of less than 3 years.

Cards received as a result of fundraising activities

Example 1

Siu-Ly buys a gift voucher from a charity that is selling them as part of their annual fundraising. The voucher is for a restaurant and comes with a 12-month expiry period.

The short expiry period is valid provided the voucher was sold or donated by the restaurant to the charity for fundraising purposes.

Example 2

Amy purchased a ticket for a fundraising event. Amy wins a gift card for a local beauty salon as part of an event raffle. The gift card is valid for 30 days.

The short expiry period is likely to be valid if the gift card was donated by the salon to the charity.

Prepaid phone/internet service cards 

Krishan buys a prepaid SIM card for his phone at a NSW supermarket. The new laws do not apply to these cards or cards for any other utility.

Single load, prepaid Visa/Mastercard/Eftpos cards 

Barry buys a $100 prepaid Visa gift card at a supermarket in Sydney which has a 12-month expiry period printed on it. The gift card cannot be topped up or used to get cash.

If the gift card was purchased between 31 March and 30 September 2018, it does not have to have a three-year expiry period.

From 1 October 2018, these gift cards must be sold with a minimum 3-year expiry period.

Reloadable electronic payment system cards 

Farooq purchased a prepaid reloadable Visa gift card at a post office in NSW. The gift card can be topped up. These types of gift cards are exempt from the new laws.

Administration fees after purchase 

Jake buys a gift card from a clothing store in NSW on 6 May 2018. Jake is told that $2.50 will be deducted from the value of the card as an activation fee, and that $2.50 will be deducted every six months as a card administration fee.

These fees are post-purchase administrative fees and cannot be charged.

Transaction fees 

Sienna uses a single load, prepaid Visa gift card to buy a bag from an online retailer. She is charged a currency conversion fee as part of the transaction.

The currency conversion fee can be charged, as it applies to all consumer sales regardless of whether a consumer makes a purchase with a gift card or another payment method.

 
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