The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) announced on February 28 the issuance of guidance on gift cards. The guidance is intended to assist OTS-regulated savings banks in ensuring adequate account administration, marketing, and sound consumer disclosure practices for gift card programs. The guidance encourages more uniform practices among thrifts that offer gift card programs, and supports institutional efforts to improve consumers’ understanding of gift card features while also encouraging product innovation. In issuing the guidance, the OTS noted that gift cards continue to grow in popularity and are projected to increase in volume. Currently, approximately 20 percent of OTS-regulated institutions offer some form of gift card program. Pursuant to the guidance, thrifts must have adequate policies and procedures in place to administer gift card programs, as well as a framework to address inherent program risks.

Thrifts must also ensure that they provide customers adequate information about the gift cards they offer, including disclosures on fees and expiration dates. Finally, the guidance reminds institutions to avoid the use of misleading promotional materials.