Gift cards now come with legislated three-year expiry in NSW

While some business owners have concerns, state Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean says new gift card laws are about keeping it fair for consumers. Photo: Nick Moir.
While some business owners have concerns, state Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean says new gift card laws are about keeping it fair for consumers. Photo: Nick Moir.

The NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean has expressed a willingness to help small businesses cope with new gift-card legislation.

The legislation, passed through parliament on Wednesday, October 18, will make it compulsory for all gift cards and gift vouchers to be valid for three years.

Mr Kean said the new laws were designed to put more money back into consumers pockets.

“These reforms will mean a mandatory three-year expiry date for all gift cards sold in NSW, putting up to $60million a year back in the hands of shoppers,” he said.

“When consumers head to the shops, they don’t need a business restricting how and when they spend their cash.”

Head of media for Choice Tom Godfrey applauded the legislation, saying the new laws are a big win for NSW consumers.

“While a gift card might seem like a convenient fix for a shopping dilemma, in reality, it can come with tricky terms and conditions,” he said.

“Whether it’s unfair expiry dates, dodgy activation fees or losing out when a retailer goes under, gift cards can be risky products for consumers and a gift horse for retailers who bank on low redemption rates.

“It’s great to finally see an end to the days of retailers cashed in by issuing gift cards with short expiry dates. We believe these reforms will make gift cards simpler and fairer for consumers."

The reforms have caused some unrest among South Coast businesses, with a number of small business owners having concerns.

Most of these concerns revolve around losing profit due to inflation over a three-year period.

Bega small business owner Mal Barnes and former chamber of commerce president said while his business wouldn’t be affected, he understood the concerns some have.

“I’ve only been thinking about it (gift cards) as a monetary value, so it doesn’t make much difference in my situation,” he said.

“If it’s a product rather than a value though, it could be a problem if the value of that product goes up.”

However, Mr Barnes believes a business would still have something to gain by honouring expired or under-valued gift cards.

“If the business loses a little bit of money from from a gift card, they’ll be gaining a lot of good will by honouring it.”

Mr Kean defended the legislation, saying businesses should be doing all they can to do right by their customers.

“This is consumers’ cash,” he said. “Businesses should be doing everything they can to put consumers first and give them what they pay for.

“I’m willing to work with any business – large or small – who wants to put consumers first and ensure their loyal customers get a fair go.”