Selling gift cards

Gift cards are a convenient and popular product for many consumers. As a seller, there are rules and guidelines for you to follow when offering gift cards.

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) has been amended to include specific rules for gift cards. Because the ACL applies nationally, these new rules mean traders only have one set of gift card rules they must comply with, reducing red tape and saving you time and money.

From 1 November 2019, any gift cards sold in Australia—with the exception of a few limited-use gift cards and vouchers—must have a minimum 3-year expiry period, and the expiry date must be clearly displayed on the card or voucher.

Terms and conditions

You should be clear about the terms and conditions on gift cards:

  • Don’t mislead your customers. This can be about which products they can buy with the card or any other terms and conditions of use.
  • Show expiry dates. From 1 November 2019, gift cards sold in Australia will have a minimum 3 year expiry period. The expiry date should be clear on the card.
  • Be specific about inclusions and exclusions. If a gift card is for a shopping centre, make it clear which stores are included and excluded.
  • Give the buyer a copy of your terms and conditions. Encourage them to pass it on to the gift card recipient. Make your terms and conditions available on your website and in-store.
  • Record the details of any gift cards you sell. Then you can replace lost or stolen cards.

Values and balances

Here are some guidelines about the values and balances on gift cards:

  • Don’t set a minimum-spend for the gift card. For example, a customer who wants to use a gift card with a low balance (e.g. $4) should not have to spend a minimum amount (e.g. $10) to use the card.
  • Don't force a customer to use the whole amount in one transaction. For example, you should allow a customer to spend $40 of a $100 gift card by adjusting the remaining value of the gift card or issuing a new gift card for $60.
  • Offer cash change for small amounts remaining on the card. For example, if the gift card is for $100, and the consumer has redeemed at least $90, you should offer to pay the rest of the original value in cash.
  • Let customers check the balance on their gift card for free. An online service is best, but if not available, the service should be available in-store.

Business changing hands

Make sure to keep your customers advised of the status of their gift cards if your business:

If you sell your business, we encourage you to take steps to make sure that the new owner will still honour your gift cards.

New national gift card rules

With the exception of a few-limited use gift cards and vouchers, gift cards sold in Australia on or after 1 November 2019 will have a minimum 3-year expiry period, and the expiry date must be clearly displayed on the card or voucher.

It will also be illegal to charge gift card holders post-purchase fees or administration charges that will reduce the value of a gift card, such as activation, account-keeping and balance enquiry fees.

You will, however, still be able to charge fees you would normally charge as part of a transaction, such as overseas transaction fees, booking fees, or fees charged to replace lost, stolen or damaged cards. You will also be able to charge an upfront fee for the purchase of the gift cards.

Some cards are excluded from the new rules, including cards or vouchers that are:

  • for a good or service available for a limited time where the card or voucher expires at the end of that period (e.g. entry to a concert or museum exhibition)
  • supplied to a purchaser of goods or services as part of a temporary marketing promotion (e.g. a $50 wine voucher valid for 1 month that is mailed to a consumer as a bonus with a purchased item—i.e. it was not part of the purchase offer)
  • given free of charge for promotional purposes (e.g. a local shopping centre has a 1-day marketing promotion where each visitor to the centre on that day is handed a $20 gift card that is valid for use at any store in the centre for that day only)
  • sold for a particular good or service that is below the market value of that good or service (a genuine discount—e.g. a $50 card for a salon service valued at $100)
  • supplied as part of an employee rewards program
  • given as a bonus in connection with a purchase of a good or service for use in the same business (e.g. customer loyalty programs).

Existing terms and conditions apply to gift cards and vouchers bought before 1 November 2019.

Find out more about the new gift card laws.