ACT NO. 39
Banking and insurance; gift certificates
This act establishes statutory requirements for gift certificates, gift cards, and stored-value cards. Certificates and cards are required not to have an expiration date not less than three years from the date of issuance. The expiration date must be clearly identified on the certificate or card or otherwise made available, if not the certificate or card is deemed to have no expiration dates. Following the expiration date of the certificate, the unused portion of the gift certificate shall be returned to the holder of the gift certificate, if requested. If the remaining value on a gift certificate is less than $1.00, the certificate or card is redeemable in cash upon demand. At the holder's request, the issuer shall provide the amount of any unused balance.
Charging fees in connection with the certificate or stored-value card, including dormancy fees, redemption fees, or other administrative fees or service charges is prohibited. Licensed money transmitters, financial institutions, or credit unions may charge a one-time fee at the time of issuance equal to the lesser of $10.00 or ten percent of the face amount purchased or added to a stored-value card.
The following are exempted from the requirements of the act:
(1) A gift certificate issued pursuant to an awards or loyalty program where no money or other thing of value is given in exchange for the gift certificate, provided that the expiration date is clearly and legibly disclosed on the gift certificate.
(2) A gift certificate donated to a charitable organization and used for fund-raising activities of a charitable organization, without any money or other thing of value being given in exchange for the gift certificate by the charitable organization, provided that the expiration date is clearly and legibly printed on the gift certificate.
(3) Prepaid calling cards issued solely to provide an access number and authorization code for prepaid calling services.
(4) A gift certificate for a food product, provided the expiration date is clearly and legibly printed on the front or the face of the gift certificate or printed on the back of the gift certificate in at least 10-point font.
(5) A season pass, a discount ski card, or a record sold for admission to any seasonal recreational activity.
The act also provides for penalties and joint enforcement by the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration for entities that the Department regulates and the Office of the Attorney General for violations of the act which the act deems violations of the Consumer Fraud Act. Consumers may bring a private action.
Effective Date: July 1, 2005
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street