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Office of Consumer Protection

Gift Cards

Gift cards are an increasingly popular gift.  And why not?  They have many advantages for both the gift giver and recipient.  The giver needs only to pick the store and the amount.  The recipient can pick a gift that he or she really wants; both avoid the hassle of returns.
Technological advances have resulted in purchases being automatically deducted from the cards and allow the cards to be "reloaded" with more value.  However, consumers need to carefully choose a gift card since some include fees or have expiration dates. Local consumers should note that Maryland law prohibits imposing fees or expiration dates on retail cards sold in the state after June 30, 2006, until the cards are four years old. 
On August 21, 2010, the   "Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009" (PDF Document), went into effect. This new law prohibits dormancy fees or service charges unless the card has been inactive for 12 months (48 months in Maryland) from the time of purchase. Any expiration date on the card can be no less than 5 years from the time the card was purchased or "reloaded."
For more information on gift cards, please view OCP's   2007 Gift Card Report and the brochure  Unwrapping Gift Cards (Consumer Financial Protection Board).

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