Gift Card Guidelines

I’ve stated before that I’m not a big gift card fan, and this is especially true of the bank branded gift cards. It seems that they are getting more complaints as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has issued a number of guidelines to banks on misleading customers with gift cards. One example is that they are asking banks not to use “no expiration date” for a gift card when the card carries monthly maintenance or service fees since the statement is quite misleading. These fees can make the gift card worthless if it is not used quickly making the no expiration date claim worthless. The OCC has also recommended that if there are fees that can make the card become worthless before it expires, these fees should be disclosed.

The OCC wants the banks to provide basic information about the gift card easily found on the gift card itself or some type of memo attached to the gift card so that consumers can understand any fees and restrictions the gift card holds. The recommendations include:

  • If an expiration date exists, it should be displayed on the front of the card.
  • All fees, including monthly maintenance, service, dormancy and usage should be spelled out
  • Contact information with tool free number or website address where consumers can get more detailed information should be displayed.

    There currently aren’t any universal standards for gift cards. While this is a tiny step in the right direction, since these are recommendations and not required, the banks don’t need to follow them. If you do get a bank card for yourself or to give as a gift, be aware that there can be a number of fees associated with gift cards that you should fully understand so that you can claim the full value of the gift card.

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    One Response to Gift Card Guidelines

    1. Fooz Bar says:

      Heh – if you’re going to give such a generic gift card why not just give the classic Universal Gift Certificate: cash …?

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