Do Gift Cards Ever Expire? Here’s What You Should Know

Gift cards offer consumers a very modern, effective, and minimalist way of giving someone they know a present they are practically guaranteed to appreciate. By removing the responsibility of choosing a befitting present from yourself, gift cards place the final say in the hands of the gift recipient, meaning there’s no chance for a mistake on your part. 

Giving someone a gift should be a moment free of last-minute anxiety and unwarranted stress over the possibility of them not liking your gift. When you pick a gift card to a retailer or brand you know they are a frequent shopper at, then you can pretty much ensure that your present is going to be well-received. After all, it doesn’t make sense to gift someone a gift card to a retailer that they aren’t a fan of or hardly ever go to since you don’t want your money to go to waste. 

So go ahead and buy that gift card and don’t feel any shame about getting a present that doesn’t seem good enough! But before you do, make sure you have all of your information on hand. For instance, did you know that gift cards can expire after a certain length of time? 

That’s right, and there are quite a few folks out there who aren’t aware of these facts. Many people presume the funds on gift cards will last forever and tend to hold onto these pieces of plastic for a lengthy amount of time, some even forgetting them entirely and leaving them to collect dust in the back of a cabinet drawer while the funds slip away. Obviously that’s a worst-case scenario, but it’s something worth being concerned about since nearly half of Americans collectively possess billions in unused gift cards. Billions. 

If that comes as a shock to you, just remember that a few dollars or cents remaining on a gift card balance are hardly worth remembering about in comparison to gift cards with twenty-five, fifty, or hundreds of dollars leftover. It’s easy to lose track of gift cards with low balances since they aren’t at the forefront of your mind or wallet, which is why there is such a high amount of unused gift card credit out there.

In order to avoid contributing to the abundance of unused gift card value, it’s vital that you shop smart and always opt for gift cards for retailers that you know are going to get used. Gift cards for apparel stores, restaurant chains, wellness companies, and so many more popular retailers can go a long way when you know the shopping habits of the person you’re buying for, so make sure you do your research before you throw money into a gift card. 

Federal Law and Gift Cards

While gift cards do indeed expire after some time, there are protections put in place by federal and state law to ensure customers are not taken advantage of by gift card retailers. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 established fair, transparent policies in regards to the issuance of credit, restricting what credit card companies can legally charge consumers. This act also imposes a regulation of fees, expiration dates, and additional unexpected costs from gift cards. 

The main takeaways from the Credit CARD Act are as follows: 

  • Dormancy fees can only be applied after one year of no activity
  • Only one dormancy fee can be charged per month following the first year of no use  
  • Consumers must be given clear and accurate disclosures regarding applicable fees

These protections primarily affect certain types of gift cards purchasable from merchants like stores and restaurants, and are otherwise known as merchant gift cards. These gift cards are only able to be redeemed at the retailers that sell them; bank gift cards, which carry the logo of a payment card network such as Visa or Mastercard, are also subject to Credit CARD Act protections and can be used wherever the brand is accepted. 

Another of the policies legislated through the Credit CARD Act that widely benefits consumers is the five year minimum shelf life. Per federal law, gift cards can expire no sooner than five years after the date of purchase or when money was first loaded onto the card. Though that means shoppers won’t have to worry about losing the value of their gift cards for a while, it is important to familiarize yourself with the policies of the card issuer to check if any dormancy fees are applicable after prolonged periods of no use.   

State Legislation 

Protections for consumers in regards to gift cards and gift certificates became federally mandated by way of the Credit CARD Act of 2009, wherein Congress passed the law based on similar state legislation. This simply sets a floor for regulation where gift cards are concerned and leaves further regulation up to the individual state legislatures, such as redeeming gift card credit for cash and unclaimed property provisions. 

Find out if your state has any specific statutes concerning gift cards by checking out this chart available on the National Conference of State Legislatures website. 

Why Use Gift Card Granny to Purchase Gift Cards?

There are thousands of retailers out there selling gift cards for all kinds of brands, from cosmetics and furnishings to movie theaters and dining establishments. It’s easy to pick up a gift card during a typical shopping trip when you need a last-minute gift for a birthday, anniversary, wedding, or other commemorative occasion. However, sometimes it pays off to consider all of your gift card-buying options and seek out retailers that work to save you extra cash on your gift card purchases. 

Gift Card Granny operates as an online discount gift card retailer, saving you a certain percentage depending on the amount of your gift card in the form of immediate cash back. And with all of the popular national and local retailers included in Gift Card Granny’s expansive catalog, customers should have no problem procuring a gift card that fulfills their needs, whether it be as a self-gift or a present for a special occasion. 

Let’s take a look at just some of the gift card options available via Gift Card Granny. 

1. Overstock

Even the house needs a makeover every now and again

Buy an Overstock gift card

Making the trip to a furniture store can be quite the chore, and on top of that you usually have to wait several months before your new furniture even gets delivered to your house. Skip the running around the next time you buy new furniture by taking advantage of awesome deals on Overstock. 

Operating as an online furniture retailer, Overstock makes furniture shopping easier than ever before by providing customers with a comprehensive online catalog showcasing all of the products they offer. They’ve got recliners, sectionals, bed frames, armoires, mattresses, mirrors, and pretty much anything else you’d ever need for any room in your house. 

Check out Gift Card Granny for an Overstock gift card!

2. Petco

Stock up and save big on all of the pet care essentials

Buy a Petco gift card

Shopping for a furry family member? Petco has everything responsible pet owners need in order to ensure their four-legged friends stay happy and healthy in their home environments. Shop for food, kennels, grooming supplies, carriers, litter boxes, habitats, tanks, vitamins, and much more when you check out this retailer. 

From the heavy shedders and fuzzy felines to sleek scales and downy feathers, the Petco catalog is packed with essential products for pets of all shapes and sizes. Get a Petco gift card from Gift Card Granny and start earning cash back today! 

3. The Children’s Place

Reliable and stylish apparel that kids won’t complain about 

Buy a gift card to The Children’s Place

Everyone who has a kid can tell you that it’s a blessing and it’s expensive. A gift card to The Children’s Place can cut parents some slack and help them afford a few new outfits for their kids. 

Whether you’re shopping for young girls and boys, toddlers, or babies, you’ll find tons of cute apparel and stylish accessories that are the perfect fit for any child. Shop comfortable shorts and tank tops in time for summer, or get ahead of the game with a new pair of kicks to support your kid through athletic tournaments. Take a look at everything this retailer offers with a gift card to The Children’s Place from Gift Card Granny, and don’t forget about earning cash back in the meantime!


Find your perfect match and stop stressing over bills

Buy a gift card

Booking a hotel can oftentimes be a gamble. It’s relatively easy when you’re familiar with the area and know what to expect, but if you’re vacationing someplace new and don’t know what prices are like, the expenses could come as quite the shock. 

Bypass any and all uncertainty with the convenience of, a reliable website that gives customers transparent prices on hotel rooms and compares costs between other hotels in the area. Wherever you’re wanting to go, you shouldn’t have to break the bank to do it. will help save you money where it matters, allowing you to make the most out of your travels. 

Pick up a gift card from Gift Card Granny to earn cash back!. 

5. Cracker Barrel 

Serving up a hot and fresh atmosphere of country comfort

Buy a Cracker Barrel gift card

Nothing like food to raise a person’s spirits. When you can’t physically give someone the gift of a good meal, give them an option that is equally as good: a gift card to Cracker Barrel. 

This homey restaurant chain has locations all across the country and is best known for serving comforting American classics with all-day breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Take a tender bite of biscuits soaked in delicious gravy, sip on sweet tea that reminds you of summer nights chattering on the porch with friends, and fill up on all of your other fabulous favorites before you go. 

With so many tasty dishes to look forward to, you can’t say no to a Cracker Barrel gift card with a scoop of cash back on top!

Get a GiftYa

Not interested in the traditional gift card experience? GiftYa makes electronic gifting as easy as ever with digital gifts to thousands of popular retailers across the nation. And if your gift recipient doesn’t like their gift, they can easily swap one merchant out for another similar one – that way your fund don’t go to waste and your gift recipient gets exactly what they want. 

Try out GiftYa today!

Now that you know gift cards can’t actually expire until five years have passed since the activation date, you won’t have to spend as much time stressing over that gift card you misplaced last week. Chances are you’ll find it with plenty of shopping time to spare, so spend more time thinking of all the cool products and services that await you in the future. 

Still, to be on the safe side of things and to avoid accidentally accruing fees due to dormancy, it’s generally best to make a mental (or physical) note of the gift cards you have on hand in order to go out of your way to use them. Have a gift card for that fancy new restaurant down the street? Plan for eating out one evening this week. Received a gift card for a retailer you regularly shop at? Remember to bring that gift card with you the next time you’re out on a shopping trip. Whatever you do, try not to develop the habit of tossing your gift cards in the back of some cabinet where there’s a high chance you’ll cease to forget they exist entirely. 

Informed shoppers are smart shoppers – start shopping with confidence with the help of Gift Card Granny!