Some people prefer them, while others hate to see them.

"It's so impersonal", or "It's very thoughtless." Some also call it 'the worst gift ever."

These are among the things you'll hear from someone who hates getting a gift card/gift certificate as a gift. Especially, from a loved one. But, there is some good news this holiday season for those who love to give and receive gift cards.

A new law took effect on Saturday - December 10, 2022 - that strips away various fees associated with using the cards, and makes gifts cards and gift certificates valid for nine years (barring situations where a business no long exists.)


Note: Gift cards or certificates purcashed before December 10, 2022, still may be subject to usage fees, expirations, etc. 

Other than an issuance fee charged by a retailer to a customer upon purchase of the card - usually a few bucks -  other fees to activate/retro activate, reload, or use the card are now gone, per state law:

retroactive fee, redemption fee, service fee, dormancy
  fee, latency fee, administrative fee, handling fee, access fee, periodic
  fee, renewal fee, re-loading fee, or any other fee of  any  kind,  other
  than  an  open  loop  gift  certificate  subject  to an initial one-time
  activation or issuance fee reasonably related to the cost of the  issuer
  issuing the open loop gift certificate and which shall in no event be in
  excess of nine dollars.

Additionally, the initial activation/issuance fee cannot exceed $9.

What is an issuance fee?

Example: Think of going to a box store and purchasing one of the pre-loaded $50 or $100 Visa cards. You'll pay a few dollars at purchase, on top of the value of the card. But, beyond that, there should be no additional fee required to use said card.

Dormancy fees and short-term expiration dates are now gone, too.

The cards still have to be accepted by the associated business for nine-years from the day of purchase.

And, here's a cookie for consumers when it comes to the remaining $2-$3 that you have left on a card after you've used it to make a purchase: You can get cash back.

As you've heard before, or seen written on the gift card or gift certificate itself, 'This card/certificate does not have a cash value.'

However, under the new law in New York, it does allow for you to get some cash back.

If you have a gift certificate that is for a specific business, you have the option to receive cash back for the remaining balance of the gift certificate if it is less than $5.

This applies to most gift cards/certificates unless is an 'open-loop' gift card that can be redeemed at multiple businesses.

You can read more about the changes to New York's General Business Law here.

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