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Things to know

  • With limited exceptions, gift cards cannot have an expiration date, and consumers cannot be charged usage, dormancy or other fees.
    • Key exceptions to the prohibition on expiration dates include gift cards issued for promotional purposes (e.g., the consumer did not pay for the gift card), or issued for a specific good or service.
  • Any restrictions, limitations and conditions must be printed on the card.
  • Some provinces require the issuer to provide a cash refund of an unused balance on the gift card in certain circumstances.
  • The term “gift card” is defined broadly in provincial consumer-protection legislation, and includes physical and electronic gift cards, certificates, vouchers, and other devices.
  • Certain provinces also regulate points earned pursuant to loyalty programs, and also impose limitations on the ability of the issuer to expire the reward points.
    • The term “points” is defined broadly to prevent circumvention of the legislation.
    • Similar to the gift card legislation, there are certain exceptions from the prohibition on the expiration of points, including points issued for a specific good or service.
  • Ontario’s legislation requires an issuer to re-instate points that expired between October 1, 2016 and January 1, 2018, subject to certain conditions.

Things to do

  • Ensure that you fully disclose any permissible usage limitations and fees to the consumer prior to purchase.
  • Ensure that your gift card provides all disclosure required by the gift-card legislation.
  • Refrain from having your gift card expire unless an exemption applies.
  • Re-instate points that were expired in contravention of the legislation.
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