So far in 2007, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico and Utah have enacted and/or put into effect laws that restrict expiration dates or fees on gift cards. A total of 34 states now have gift card laws and legislation currently is under consideration in several more states.
These new laws are typical of the diverse requirements and restrictions states apply to gift cards. For example, the Florida and Minnesota statutes prohibit expiration dates and fees. Arkansas prohibits the imposition of an expiration date or any fee less than two years after the date of issuance of the gift card. In addition, the Arkansas law requires that any expiration date or fee be disclosed on the front or back of the gift card in 10 point font, or in a separate statement provided to the customer if the disclosure on the card is obscured by its packaging.
New Mexico prohibits an expiration date and any charges less than 60 months from the date of issuance, and any gift card that does not conspicuously display an expiration date is presumed not to expire. The Utah law prohibits the knowing or intentional issuance of a gift card with an expiration date or fee that is not printed in a "readable manner" on the gift card, its packaging or on a separate record. The Kansas statute prohibits expiration dates less than five years after the date of purchase and any fees within one year after the date of issuance.
All of these states exempt certain kinds of gift cards from the restrictions on expiration dates and fees, but not surprisingly, the exemptions vary from state to state. For example, all except Utah expressly exempt gift cards that are provided to consumers as part of an award, loyalty or promotional program where no consideration is exchanged. The exemption in Florida; however, is more limited than in the other states, since issuers of gift cards given as part of a loyalty or promotional program cannot impose an expiration date less than one year after issuance and must provide a written disclosure to the consumer at the time of issuance. Kansas also requires that an expiration date appear on the front of a gift card that is otherwise exempt. Unfortunately, this lack of uniformity in the various state laws is the norm and not the exception.