February 13, 2007
By: Daniel Duffy, Principal Analyst
You asked for a summary of state law on gift cards.
A “gift card” is a type of gift certificate that is a record of a seller's promise to provide goods or services up to the value shown or stored on the card. Connecticut law prohibits gift cards from expiring, prohibits sellers from imposing dormancy charges, and excludes them from the law that requires abandoned property to be escheated to the state.
A gift card is a type of gift certificate. State law defines “gift certificate” as a record showing a promise made for payment by a seller of goods or services that goods or services will be provided to the owner of the record to the value shown in the record. It includes: records containing microprocessor chips, magnetic strips, or other means of storing information that is pre-funded and for which the value is reduced on each use; gift cards; electronic gift cards; and stored-value cards or certificates. It does not include prepaid calling cards (CGS § 3-56a(5)).
The law prohibits anyone from selling or issuing a gift card that has an expiration date. Further, it prohibits a gift card or a related agreement from having language that suggests that an expiration date may apply to the card (CGS § 42-460).
The law prohibits imposing charges or fees for dormancy or the fact that property is abandoned, unclaimed, has been escheated, is inactive, or any similar inactivity charge, fee, or penalty (CGS § 3-65c).
The law excludes the value of gift cards from the law that generally deems property held or owed in this state and unclaimed by its owner to be abandoned after a specified amount of time passes. The state treasurer assumes custody and is responsible for any ownership or other claims on this abandoned property (CGS § 3-73a).