Gift cards – use them quickly!

If you delay, you risk the trade closing before you can make a profit.

A prepaid card, or “gift card”, allows you to pay in advance to one or more merchants, either to obtain a specific good or service, or to have a credit to make a purchase. It could be, for example, a product from a specific store, a treatment at a designated spa, an evening at a specific inn, or even a meal at a specific restaurant. These cards come in different forms (gift certificate, printable coupon, virtual card, etc.) and media. Only the cards that consumers have to pay for are covered by the law, as opposed to those that the merchant gives them for free or those that they benefit from as part of a rewards program.

Various information must appear on the card:

• your conditions of use;

• fees payable (where permitted by law);

• how to check the balance;

• the date your issuer requires the card to be replaced, if applicable;

• the value of the good or service at the time of sale of the card, as well as the date from which the issuer may, eventually, demand a supplement for the provision of the good or service in the case of a card that allows obtain a specific good or service.

If this information is not mentioned on the card, your issuer must give you, before purchase, a document in which it appears. Note that you do not have the right to indicate an expiration date on the card, or to decide that it will one day become unusable, for example two years after its purchase, unless the card provides for its use. Unlimited services.

Did you receive a gift card that entitles you to a four-course meal in a restaurant and, on the day of your arrival, this option is no longer on the menu or is the establishment permanently closed? In this case, the card issuer (if not the restaurant itself) must offer you compensation equal to the price you paid to acquire it. For this, it can, for example, offer you the option of reimbursing yourself in cash or with another card equivalent to the value of the first one, or offering you a good or a service to replace the one that is no longer offered, c that is to say, in this case , a meal. Note that the good or service offered in exchange must be of equal or greater value than the one that is no longer offered.

Did the company that issued the card go bankrupt? In this case, you risk losing your money, even if there are some possible solutions. If there is a bankruptcy, of course, you can register as a creditor even if, in most cases, this step will not allow you to get your stake back. The risk you take when buying a gift card is very similar to paying for an asset up front or leaving a deposit with a merchant.

What about cards that can be used as cash?

We are talking here about cards that can be used with a single merchant or with a single sign, for example a hardware card. The amount you spent to obtain such a card remains valid at all times. As long as it’s not in use, a card purchased for $ 50, for example, retains that value. Also, your balance remains valid as long as you have not spent it. Please note that a balance equal to or less than $ 5 on a card can be claimed in cash.

This advice is taken from the guide 100 TRUCS Consommateurs, your daily rights, prepared in collaboration with the Office de la protection du consommateur. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the Office is offering this guide free of charge to all consumers.


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