Comptroller: Read fine print carefully on Christmas gift cards

New York News

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — If you received a gift card this Christmas, make sure to read the fine print carefully. New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli is urging New Yorkers to look for details about fees and expiration dates on their gift cards- and to spend them in a “timely fashion” so the money doesn’t eventually get turned over to his Office of Unclaimed Funds.

“After the holidays, it’s easy to lose track of your gift cards,” DiNapoli said. “In 2020, over $16 million worth of unused gift cards were received in our office. To help stop this from happening to you, register the card with the retailer. It could help to get a replacement card if it is lost and could also help recover any unused balance if it’s reported to us as unclaimed funds. It is important not to wait too long to spend your gift cards to avoid inactivity fees.”

After five years of not using a gift card, the money from unused gift cards issued by New York businesses goes to DiNapoli’s office as abandoned property.

Terms and conditions for a card must be on the card, and New York law states that gift cards can’t be issued a monthly service fee against the balance before two years or 25 months of inactivity.

Some gift card sellers have eliminated inactivity fees, but DiNapoli still says consumers should ask if fees apply.

DiNapoli’s office is currently holding more than $16 billion in unclaimed funds.

You can click here to see if you’re owed money.

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