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Some gift cards do expire: Here's what you need to know

If you received a gift card this Christmas, it may be best to use them sooner rather than later
If you are frugal or if you were planning to save that gift card for a rainy day - don't wait too long or it may cost you.

Yes, there is a law preventing most gift cards from expiring, but there are exceptions. Here's what you need to know.

Doesn't the Consumer Protection Act ban most retail business gift cards from having an expiry date? Yes, but as we said there are some exceptions.

For example, pre-paid credit cards like Visa or Mastercard cards, although they are an ideal gift as you can use them to purchase anything you like or even pay some bills, come with a monthly maintenance fee if you don't spend it within the first 12 months.

Fees are automatically depleted from the card a year after it's activated. Fees can range from $2 to $5 per month. Always read the fine print on the back of the card.

Special rules also apply to shopping mall gift cards.

Shopping mall gift cards keep their value for 15 months from the date of purchase, but the mall can apply a dormancy fee after 15 months up to a maximum amount of $2.50 per month.

According to the Ontario Ministry of consumer services Consumer Protection Act, you can request a three-month extension before dormancy fees are charged by contacting the shopping mall card supplier during the 15th month after purchase of the shopping mall gift card. If you get an extension, dormancy fees can’t be charged for an additional three months.

Gift cards for one specific service like a massage at a spa may come with an expire date and lose its value if not used.

So, if you were planning to save that gift card for a rainy day, don't wait too long or it may cost you.

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Heather Green-Oliver

About the Author: Heather Green-Oliver

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