New Yorkers can now cash out gift cards of $5 or less

Governor Kathy Hochul just passed a law that will make the holiday season even better.

Thanks to a new legislation package, consumers will now be able to exchange gift cards with a remaining balance of less than $5 for cash. Said gift cards will also now legally enjoy a minimum expiration period of nine years, up from five years. And finally, consumers will be delighted about the new ban on hidden fees that effectively prohibit declining values over time.

Suddenly, all we want for Christmas and Hannukah is a gift card to our favorite store.

“As we enter the holiday season of giving and New Yorkers buy gifts for their friends and family, it’s more important than ever that we protect them from unfair practices that have a real impact on consumers’ bottom line,” the politician said in an official statement. “This legislation will guarantee a season of good cheer in New York State by making sure that no New Yorker unfairly loses their accumulated credit card rewards or is shortchanged when buying a gift card for a loved one.”  

The new guidelines affect all gift cards and certificates purchased in New York State after December 10.

The New York State Department of Consumer Protection also released a number of tips to keep in mind when buying cards and certificates this holiday season. These include:

  • Research retailers before you buy anything
  • When buying a gift card, make sure the packaging and security seals are intact
  • Use caution when buying gift cards from third parties or online auctions
  • Always review any terms and conditions for a gift card
  • Beware of scammers, who often seek payment in the former or prepaid cards.

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