New NY gift card rules go into effect

Amazon gift cards are seen in a store in New York, United States, on October 25, 2022. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Just in time for the holidays, new legislation signed by Governor Kathy Hochul went into effect across New York on Saturday, extending expiration dates and limiting fees for gift cards.

According to the New York State Department of Consumer Protection, the new legislation means that any gift cards purchased in the state after December 10 will remain valid for nine years after the date of purchase, a four-year increase over the previous rule.

The new law also prohibits all fees in order to prevent gift cards and gift certificates from declining in value. 

Finally, if the remaining value of a gift card or gift certificate is less than $5, the recipient can choose to get cash for the remaining balance.

NY gift card law

Gift cards offer consumers convenience during the holidays," said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. "Thanks to Governor Hochul, gift cards now have a longer shelf life and recipients are afforded more time to find the perfect gift to treat themselves as their gift giver intended."

The purchase date of a gift card determines what legal protections customers have:

  • Cards/certificates bought between Sept. 21, 2004, and August 21, 2010 - There is no law requiring a minimum expiration date. After 12 months of inactivity, an inactivity fee may be assessed.
  • Cards/certificates bought between August 22, 2010, and December 24, 2016 - Expiration date is at least 5 years from the date of purchase and a one-time inactivity fee may be assessed after 12 months of inactivity.
  • Cards/certificates bought between December 25, 2016, and December 9, 2022 - Expiration date is at least 5 years from the date of purchase. A monthly inactivity service fee may be assessed after the 24th month of inactivity. If the gift card is used within 3 years of the purchase date, any activity fees assessed will be waived and the gift card will be refilled to it value before the fees.
  • Cards/certificates bought after December 10, 2022 - Cards will be valid for nine years from the date of purchase, and inactivity fees are prohibited.

The DCP also offered the following tips to keep in mind when buying and using gift cards this holiday season:

  • Research retailers before you buy anything.
  • When buying a gift card, make sure the packaging and security seals are intact
  • Use caution when buying gift cards from third parties or online auctions
  • Always review any terms and conditions for a gift card
  • Beware of scammers, who often seek payment in the former or prepaid cards.