What's the problem?

You’ve been given a gift card, and a few months later you’ve found the time to use it. But the brand you’ve gone to spend it at has declared it worthless. You read through the lengthy terms and conditions, and realise that your gift card has expired. Why has this happened?

At Fairer Finance, we can’t see a reason why gift cards are forced to expire. The money on the card is already falling in value from the moment you’re given it - because of inflation - and you can only spend that money where the issuer wants you to. So why tip the scales further in the company’s favour by letting them declare your gift card void whenever they want?

And as more and more companies face administration in today’s retail environment, the need for consumer protections is higher than ever. Currently, if a company falls into administration, it is free to declare all gift cards worthless – even if they were sold just a few days before.

The same goes for a company in liquidation, where only a tiny proportion of the money spent on gift cards is protected. In practice this means that consumers are refunded on average 1p for every £1 they spent on gift cards. Again, customers have bought the gift cards in good faith, and despite doing nothing wrong, they have to pick up the bill for the company’s failings.

What's the solution?

1. Ban the sale of gift cards with expiry dates.

The UK is behind the curve on this issue, as the sale of gift cards with expiry dates is already banned in Canada, as well as several US states, such as California, Florida, and Connecticut.

Research from Fairer Finance into 70 major gift cards shows that 53 expire after 24 months or less after last use.

2. Make sure companies honour gift cards during administration.

In 2018 alone, household names such as Toys ‘R’ Us, House of Fraser, Poundworld, and Maplin all entered administration. These events are outside the customer’s control, and so the customer shouldn’t bear the penalty of them.

Despite this, consumers lose on average £83 each due to gift cards not being honoured during administration. If companies are letting new customers buy goods, then they should let gift card holders use them to buy goods too.

3. Protect the money held in gift cards from the past five years if a company enters liquidation.

Companies should be forced to ring-fence all money held in gift cards bought within the last five years. This will mean that if a company is liquidated, customers can claim their money back.

How you can help


Message the company

If you receive a gift card that has an expiry date, let the company know that you don’t think this is ok. A consumer led campaign in New Zealand succeeded in making a number of large brands drop their expiry dates – and you could do the same.


Write to the minister

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has the power to change the rules and put a stop to this unfair practice. The Secretary of State responsible for this department is Greg Clark MP. Send him a letter or email him to let him know it’s time for change.


Tweet about our campaign

Let everyone know you support our campaign by making a noise across your social media. Tweet #TheGiftThatKeepsOnGiving, and while you’re at it, why not tweet the minister @GregClarkMP? The more people get behind this campaign, the more noise will be made in the media, and the greater the chance of change in parliament.