Consumers support National rules for gift cards

The Queensland Consumers Association is supporting the introduction of national rules for gift cards following the rules introduced recently in NSW.

In its submission on a federal government discussion paper on options for national rules, the Association supports a minimum 3 year expiry period for gift cards but also wants other changes.

Association spokesperson Ian Jarratt says each year consumers throughout the country lose millions of dollars of expired value on cards and incur substantial costs trying to fix problems with cards.

National rules will benefit consumers and businesses but should go beyond just a 3 year minimum expiry period and address other the significant problems with cards, including that if the unused value on a card is $10 or less, and if requested by a consumer, card issuers should be required to payout in cash, or other means, the remaining unused value.

The Association also wants fewer cards than in NSW to be exempt from any rules and for card issuers with suitable systems to allow cards to be registered and people to receive electronic reminders about remaining unused expiring value on cards.

Also, as in NSW and to avoid consumers, being slugged with high fees/charges, post purchase fees/charges should be not allowed, except for surcharges for the use of cards issued by financial institutions.  And, any fees/ charges at time of purchase should be no greater than the costs likely to be incurred by the issuers.

Card issuers should also be required to display prominently, legibly and consistently on cards and associated materials important consumer information, especially an expiry date.