With Christmas just a few days away, people are scrambling for last-minute gifts and gift cards are the easiest option. But new research shows Aussies collectively lost around $200 million each year because of expired gift cards.
News Corp Australia personal finance writer Sophie Elsworth spoke to Your Money Live about new gift card expiry regulations that have come into effect to protect consumers.
“Legislation changed this year in New South Wales and South Australia, so there’s now a maximum period of three years that retailers must give you to redeem that card,” Elsworth said.
The change isn’t retrospective and is only for card purchased after March 31 this year.
Elsworth warned consumers to watch out for fees and charges.
“There can be some nasty costs associated with gift cards.”
“This happened to me earlier this year.
I was charged $5 for ringing up one of the gift card hotlines to ask questions about my card.
“Then I was charged another 50 cents to find out the balance.”
She said that in some cases there can be activation fees, balance check fees and if you lose your card you may be charged to be reissued with a new one.
“I know it’s painful, but do read that fine print because you may get caught out.
To prevent wasting the cash tied up in gift cards, Elsworth says you should use them straight away.
“If you don’t redeem those cards, it’s basically throwing money down the drain,” she said.
“Leave it on the kitchen table or somewhere you’re going to see it and redeem it quickly because this is what happens. People forget to use them, they throw them in the back of the drawer and before you know it, the expiry date has gone.”