If you receive a gift certificate for your birthday or the holidays, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you do not have to use it immediately.
The gift certificate law provides additional protection for those who either buy or receive a gift certificate. The law states that any restaurant or other party involved in retail goods and services must honor its gift certificates for at least two years for gift certificates issued only in paper form, or at least five years for gift certificates issued in other forms, such as electronic cards or other mediums. If there is an expiration date, it must be listed on the gift certificate. Service fees, including service fees for dormancy or inactivity, are prohibited. Beginning on January 1, 2020, gift certificate issuers are required to pay customers back the remaining value of a gift certificate in cash if the gift certificate has a balance of less than $5.00.
The law does not cover all vouchers or certificates issued by restaurants or retailers. Certificates sold at a discount, used solely for telephone services, not marketed to the general public or marketed or labeled as a gift certificate, or given as a loyalty, award, promotional gift card are not covered. The gift certificate law does not apply to cards or certificates that are redeemable solely for admission to events or venues at a particular location or group of affiliated locations (e.g. a particular concert or sporting event). It applies only to certificates for which the issuer has received payment for the full face value.