NY comptroller: Read fine print on gift cards this holiday season

The state comptroller is reminding New Yorkers to read the fine print on gift cards during the holiday season to make sure they’re aware of any fees and expiration dates.

Posted: Nov. 22, 2017 3:19 PM

The state comptroller is reminding New Yorkers to read the fine print on gift cards during the holiday season to make sure they’re aware of any fees and expiration dates.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says that while some gift card sellers no longer have inactivity fees, people should still ask whether fees apply when they’re purchasing a gift card. He’s also urging New Yorkers to use gift cards within a year of the date they were purchased to avoid inactivity fees.

Money from unused gift cards sold at New York businesses is turned over to the state comptroller’s office after five years of going unused. During Fiscal Year 2016-2017, a total of $14.8 million from unused gift cards was turned over to the state’s Abandoned Property Fund, according to DiNapoli.

DiNapoli says that many gift cards sold after August 22, 2010 aren’t allowed to charge inactivity fees unless the card has been inactive for at least 12 months, under the Federal Credit Card Act 2009. All of the terms and conditions also must be disclosed directly on the card, and gift cards can’t expire within five years of purchase.

Some terms and conditions that can decrease the value of a gift card include:

- Service fees when the card is purchased;
- Dormancy fees if the gift card is not used within a certain period of time;
- Fees to call and check the balance remaining on the card; and
- Replacement fees for lost or stolen gift cards.

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