Don’t get stung by gift vouchers

July 18, 2017

Have you ever tried to use a gift voucher only to discover it has expired or the business has closed down? What about losing a voucher you were really looking forward to using?  Here’s what you need to know in a nutshell so you get to enjoy your voucher:

  • Watch out for expiry dates: in many cases gift vouchers or cards have an expiry date and you may not be able to use them after that date. If the expiry date is not clear or there is no expiry date on the gift voucher or gift card, find out what the expiry date is – don’t assume there is none.
  • Pass on any terms and conditions: if the voucher is a gift, give the recipient any information you get on the expiry date or charges that may apply. Terms and conditions should also say if you have to use the voucher all in one go.
  • Keep your voucher safe: if you lose a gift voucher, the shop that issued it doesn’t have to replace it – it’s just like losing cash.
  • Watch out for charges:  terms and conditions for gift vouchers, including charges, are set at the company’s own discretion. Some gift cards have monthly maintenance charges after one year which eat into the balance of your gift card if you don’t use it.
  • Use a debit or credit card to pay for a gift voucher: this may give you extra protection if something goes wrong such as the business closing down before you use the voucher. In this instance you may be able to request a chargeback from your card provider (the bank or credit card company who issued the card) because the service you paid for was not provided. There are numerous reasons why a sale can be charged back to the seller, and these are set out under the rules of the various credit and debit card schemes.
  • Spend the voucher soon: by spending the voucher or gift card soon as soon as possible, you minimise the risk of potential problems of not being able to use the voucher. These include the voucher expiring, retailers going out of business, losing the voucher or forgetting you have it in the first place!
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