New gift card rules a good first step, consumer advocate says

CARD Act a good first step for gift cards
CARD Act a good first step for gift cards

Some provisions of the landmark CARD Act that went into effect on Sunday give consumers new protections when it comes to gift cards, helping them keep more of their hard-earned dollars in their pockets. The new regulations are a boon to consumers, says Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. "The new law will hopefully end some of the abuses we saw before," Rheingold told Walletpop in a phone interview.

The part of the CARD Act for which people will probably be most grateful is a radical shift in card-expiration policies. Beginning on Aug. 22, gift cards now must have expiration dates at least five years into the future. For reloadable cards, the five-year clock starts ticking the last time funds were deposited onto the card. "So many people were surprised to find that the value of their cards had decreased, that rule in and of itself is a good thing," says NACA's Rheingold. Those expired funds were just money in the pockets of the retailers and issuers, he adds.