Buying gift cards

You should understand your rights as well as the terms and conditions when you buy or use a gift card for a good or service.

On 1 November 2019, new national rules around gift cards will come into effect.

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

Using a gift card

Answer these questions when you buy or use gift cards or gift vouchers.

When will the card expire?

Make sure:

  • you take note of the expiry date. With the exception of a few limited-use gift cards and vouchers, all gift cards bought from 1 November 2019 automatically come with a minimum 3-year period
  • the expiry date is clearly marked on the card, so that you (or your recipient) don’t forget it.

Does it have any spending limits?

Ask if:

  • the store imposes a minimum amount that you need to spend in each transaction
  • you need to spend the full amount in one transaction.

How will the store give change?

They might:

  • give you a new card for the remaining amount
  • re-encode the card to be worth the remaining amount
  • give you cash change (if they do, it will usually only be a few dollars or a small percentage of the original card value)
  • not give change at all.

Are stores excluded from shopping centre cards?

Think about:

  • which stores you or your recipient usually shop at
  • whether those stores set out their exclusion on a card, receipt or notice.

Will they replace lost or stolen cards and vouchers?

If so:

  • check if they maintain a register of cards
  • keep your receipt
  • note any identifying number or code shown on the gift card
  • contact the store about lost cards as soon as possible.

Can you check how much is left on a gift card?

This could be by:

  • asking in-store
  • checking online.

What are the fees and charges?

Make sure you understand any fees and charges.

What are the terms and conditions?

Make sure you:

  • get a written copy from the retailer
  • pass this document on to the gift card recipient.

When a card isn’t honoured

A store may not honour your gift card if they:

  • change to new owners
  • go into administration, receivership or liquidation.

The best way to avoid this is to use a gift card early.

Find out more about traders going out of business

New national gift card rules

From 1 November 2019, gift cards sold in Australia will have a minimum 3-year expiry period—with the exception of some limited-use gift cards and vouchers. They must also clearly display the expiry date on the actual card or voucher.

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

Traders will, however, be able to charge fees they would normally charge as part of a transaction, such as overseas transaction fees, booking fees, or fees charged to replace a lost, stolen or damaged card.

They will also be able to charge an upfront fee for the purchase of the gift cards. It will be up to you whether to accept the fee and proceed with the purchase.

Exceptions to the new rules include 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. 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 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 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 changes.