Money Hack: Understand your gift card rights this festive season

Posted: 29 December 2018 10:00 am

Got a gift card this Christmas? Know where you stand.

It's the go-to gift when you're struggling for ideas, but Australians have long had a love-hate relationship with the humble gift card. From service fees at the time of purchase, to charges for simply checking the remaining balance on your card, retailers are forever looking for ways to wring every last cent out of the gift card industry.

Approximately 34 million gift cards are sold in Australia each year, at an estimated cost of more than $1.5 billion. Yet, research from Finder found that we wasted over $148 million in unused gift cards in 2017, with 14% of gift cards expiring with funds remaining on the card. You generally have 12 months from the date of purchase before your gift card expires and this has helped cause the millions of dollars in unused cards. Luckily, things are slowly changing.

The hack

Legislation introduced by the New South Wales and South Australian governments this year has changed the rules around gift card expiries. This means any gift card bought in NSW or SA after 31 March 2018 will have a minimum expiry period of three years from the date of purchase.

So while any gift cards you received last Christmas will likely have already expired, going forward, you have a couple of years to use your gift cards. However, the remaining states and territories have been slow to follow suit, so it's only NSW and SA residents who can enjoy the extra time as it stands. The federal government introduced legislation in October to ensure all gift cards nationwide are given at least a three-year expiry period, but these laws do not come into effect until 1 November 2019.

There are also some major retailers that have done away with gift card expiry periods altogether. These include:

  • Woolworths (including Big W, Dan Murphy's and BWS)
  • JB Hi-Fi
  • Bunnings
  • City Beach
  • Good Guys
  • Apple

So if you've received a gift card from any of these retailers this Christmas, you can rest easy knowing you're no longer against the clock.

finder money hacks is a bi-weekly roundup of the latest tips and tricks to improve your finances. Check back every Wednesday and Saturday for new hacks.

Picture: Shutterstock

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