Gift cards are some of the most popular gifts but consumers sometimes face expiration dates and user fees. According to Consumer Reports surveys, a quarter of Americans who receive gift cards during the holidays have at least one lying around 10 months later. A researcher at a financial services firm estimated that consumers left $2.5 billion worth of gift-card value on the table in 2010.
The measure, introduced by Senator Dick Blumenthal (D-CT), would end deadlines and dormancy fees at any time. It would prevent companies that file for bankruptcy from selling gift cards and require them to accept and honor unredeemed gift cards. The Gift Card Consumer Protection Act would prevent consumers from buying or being stuck with a worthless gift card after a company goes out of business. The provision would also prevent loyalty, promotion, and award cards from expiring. These are cards consumers receive by redeeming credit card points or buying a certain product. Under the Gift Card Consumer Protection Act, these cards would have the same protections as gift cards.