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Personal Finance Tip: California Gift Card Rules

Many of us receive gift cards that we will never spend. Here are some tips on California gift card laws:

 Q 1: Can I cash my gift certificate?

 A: In California, a seller is not required to redeem a gift certificate in cash when requested by a consumer. Some gift certificate sellers redeem the gift certificate for cash or a combination of merchandise and cash.

 Notwithstanding any policy of the seller, a gift certificate with a cash value of less than ten dollars ($10) is redeemable in cash (not a new certificate or merchandise) for its cash value. However, in practice many stores are unaware of this rule so you may have an uphill battle fighting with a store clerk.

  Q.2. Can a California gift certificate or gift card contain an expiration date?

 A: Generally, no. However, there are exceptions such (a) Distributed by the issuer to a consumer without charge under an awards, loyalty or promotional program; or (b) Donated or sold below face value at a volume discount to employers or to nonprofit organizations for fundraising purposes, if the expiration date is 30 days or less after the date of sale; or (c) Issued for perishable food products.

 Have unwanted gift cards?  

Here are some options:

 1.      Trade Them: There are message boards for trading unwanted gift cards. However, watch out for scammers.

2.      Sell Them: Many sites now buy unwanted gift cards. However, your sales price will generally be 60% of the face value.

3.      Donate to Charity: If you itemize deductions, you may be eligible for a charitable contribution deduction.

4.      Donate to Someone in Need: There is no tax deduction but you are helping someone in need.

5.      Regift

 

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Richard Pon CPA, CFP