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Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan

FCAA is Saskatchewan’s financial and consumer marketplace regulator.

Gift Cards

  • Gift Cards

    Gift cards, also known as “pre-paid purchase cards” in legislation, are commonly given during the holiday season. However, there are limitations and regulations surrounding what gift cards can and cannot do.

    Here are some tips to consider when purchasing and receiving gift cards.

     

     

    Gift cards don’t expire

    In Saskatchewan, gift cards don’t have expiration dates spare for a few exceptions. Gift cards may have an expiration date if it has been issued for a charitable purpose, or if the consumer has provided nothing of value in exchange for the card. For example, if the card has been given to them as a means of promotion by the business.

    Read the fine print

    When buying or using a gift card, make sure to read the fine print. The fine print will offer all the rules information you should know before purchasing.

    No additional fees

    Gift cards do not carry any extra fees or payments outside of their initial purchase unless the card has been issued for a charitable purpose or where the customer provides nothing of value for the card. Fees may be permitted to customize a gift card, or to replace a lost or stolen card.

    Use your cards promptly

    One of the most common complaints the Consumer Protection Division receives is “the retailer went out of business and I can’t use my card!” If a retailer goes out of business before you’ve used your card, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to recover its value.

    Make sure it hasn’t been tampered with

    Before purchasing a gift card, check to see if the card looks used. If it looks as though it’s been used or swiped on a machine, do not purchase it.
     

    Frequently asked question

     

    What is a pre-paid purchase card?

    Section 47 of The Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act says that a “prepaid purchase card” is an electronic card, written certificate, or other voucher or device with a monetary value. It is issued or sold in exchange for the future purchase or delivery of goods or services.

     

    What are some examples of a pre-paid purchase card?

    Examples include gift cards or gift certificates bought at retail outlets, multi-use recreational or entertainment vouchers, pre-loaded money cards (that do not have a cash back feature) branded or issued by credit card companies, and pre-paid vouchers, passes, or tickets that can be redeemed for goods or services in the future.

    The legislation does NOT apply to tickets for events on specific days or to time-limited membership cards that are not "punch" per use cards (e.g. a membership for a year would be valid for that year only, a monthly, multi-pass membership is good for that month only, a punch type card that does not expire).

     

    Can restrictions be imposed on how pre-paid purchase cards are used?

    An issuing organization can impose the condition that the value of the card is limited to the purchase price, that it does not accumulate interest. Usage can also be limited to specific days or time of the season, but the card cannot expire. If there are conditions (other than expiry dates or inactivity fees which are prohibited), the consumer must be provided with a description of all restrictions at the time the card is issued or sold. An organization can also choose to refund the purchase price of the unused portion of the card. In all cases, the "face value" must be honoured.

     

    *Are there any exceptions to the rule that pre-paid purchase cards, including gift cards and gift certificates, cannot have an expiry date?

    An expiry date is ONLY allowed for pre-paid purchase cards that are issued for charitable purposes, or where the consumer provides nothing of value for the card (eg. as part of an advertising promotion).

     

    Are there any exceptions to the rule that there can be no fees charged for pre-paid purchase cards, including gift cards?

    Fees are ONLY allowed where a card is issued for charitable purposes or where the consumer provides nothing of value for the card. Fees are also allowed to customize pre-paid purchase cards and to replace lost or stolen cards.

     

    Do the rules apply to pre-paid telephone cards?

    Yes. If the card is activated, and used to keep a phone line open for a specific period of time, the card is only good for that period, even if talk or text time is not fully used. If the card is not activated, it does not expire.

     

    Do the rules apply to pre-loaded money cards from credit card companies?

    Yes, unless the card has a cash-back option. Generally, non-reloadable money cards do not have a cash back option. Re-loadable cards tied to a particular individual, however, may allow the holder to retrieve cash from the card. If the card has a cash-back option, the “prepaid purchase card” rules do not apply and service charges or other fees are not prohibited.

     

    Some pre-loaded, non-cash-back cards from credit card companies charge an activation fee. Is this allowed?

    An activation fee is permissible only at the time the card is purchased, not afterwards, and must be paid in addition to the amount of the "face value" purchased. The activation fee cannot be deducted from the amount on the card. Additionally, the purchaser must be informed of the fee beforehand and must have the option to decline to purchase the card. Once the card is purchased, the "face value" must be fully honored. Fees, including activation, dormancy, or inactivity fees, are prohibited.

    If a merchant sells a $50 card with a $5 activation fee, for example, the buyer pays $55, but has the option to decline the purchase. On the other hand, if the merchant sells a $50 card and does not request an additional fee prior to the purchase, once the card is purchased an activation fee is not permitted. The full $50 must be available to the buyer.

     

    What if a consumer buys a card that has an expiry date?

    Many retailers currently have a stock of cards that show an expiry date. They can sell the cards they already have, but the expiry date cannot be enforced on cards bought on or after November 10, 2008. Consumers are advised to keep their receipts to show the purchase date. Businesses selling pre-paid purchase cards after November 10, 2008 should advise customers that any expiry date on the card does not apply.

     

    Where can I go if I have a pre-paid purchase card and the business is not complying with the rules?

    Consumer Protection Division
    500 - 1919 Saskatchewan Drive
    Regina, SK S4P 4H2
    Phone: 306-787-5550
    Toll Free: 1-877-880-5550
    Fax: 306-787-9779

    Consumer Protection Division

    Suite 500, 1919 Saskatchewan Drive

    Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 4H2

    Tel: (306)787-5550

    Toll free: (877)880-5550

    Fax: (306)787-9779

    Email: consumerprotection@gov.sk.ca

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