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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2014 04:29 PM
From: Senator Rob Teplitz
To: All Senate members
Subject: Legislation - Gifts Cards
In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation that will protect shoppers who purchase gift cards in Pennsylvania from expiration dates and inactivity fees that some retailers impose. Without such protections, many stores and particularly, national chains will continue to impose inactivity fees and expiration dates that deplete over time the value of gift cards and gift certificates.

Gifts cards are one of the most rapidly growing segments of the retail industry. More than $110 billion worth of gift cards were sold nationwide last year. According to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), over 80 percent of consumers plan to buy gift cards this holiday season, spending an average of $45.16 per card.

The federal Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the “CARD Act”) provides consumers with some gift card protections including limits on expiration dates and fees. Money on store-issued and bank-issued cards cannot expire before 5 years from the date of purchase or when money was last loaded onto the card. Also, inactivity fees are prohibited unless the card is not used for twelve (12) months. Thirty-Eight (38) states have enacted additional gift card protections beyond the CARD Act with most eliminating inactivity fees and expiration dates altogether.

Consequently, Pennsylvania is in the minority of jurisdictions that does not provide any additional protections to Pennsylvania consumers beyond the CARD Act. The proposed legislation will provide an even greater incentive for anyone shopping in Pennsylvania to put gift cards on their shopping list.

Specifically, under the proposed legislation, selling or issuing a gift card or gift certificate that contains an expiration date or any type of post-sale charge or fee including, but not limited to, a service charge, dormancy fee, account maintenance fee, cash-out fee, replacement card fee or activation or reactivation fee would be a prohibited unfair method of competition under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law of 1976, as amended.

Please join me in protecting Pennsylvania shoppers by prohibiting both expiration dates and the deduction of monthly fees for non-use of a gift card. Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as SB150