Gift cards

New rules for gift cards, made under Nova Scotia's Consumer Protection Act, came into effect on February 1, 2010.

The rules say that gift cards purchased on or after February 1, 2010 do not expire.

Basic gift card rules are discussed below.  This page provides legal information only, not legal advice.

Q - What if I have a gift card that has an expiry date?

Businesses are not allowed to issue or sell a gift card that has an expiry date. You can redeem the gift card as if it had no expiry date. There are some exceptions. Expiry dates are allowed on gift cards:

  • designed for charitable, marketing, advertising or promotional purposes;
  • for a good or service, such as a haircut or spa treatment, if the gift card was issued before February 1, 2010 and has no dollar value on it.

 Also, the gift card rules do not apply to prepaid telephone cards or prepaid credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard.

Q - Can a business charge a service fee for a gift card?

Businesses are not allowed to charge service fees for gift cards. If you are charged a service fee for a gift card you can demand a fee refund. Your refund request must be in writing. The business must refund the fee within 15 days of your request.

Businesses are allowed to charge a fee to replace a lost or stolen card, or to customize a gift card. A fee is also allowed if the gift card is for a charitable purpose, or for marketing, advertising, or promotion.

Q - What information must a business give me about a gift card when I buy it?

When you buy a gift card a business must tell you, in writing:

  • how to use or replace the gift card, and any rules that apply;
  • about any fees or expiry date;
  • how and who to contact for information about the card, including your card balance
  • about any return policy for items purchased using the gift card.

Make sure you understand all the card's terms and conditions when you buy it, including any rules about refunds, returns or exchanges.

Q - Where can I get more information?

For more information consumers or businesses can contact Service Nova Scotia at www.novascotiagiftcards.ca, or call 1 800 670-4357.

For further information on consumer protection generally visit Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) through Industry Canada at www.ic.gc.ca.

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