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VISA Charges Fees For Inactive Gift Cards

Better Use Your Visa Gift Card ASAP to Avoid Fees

Out shopping this weekend, I happily remembered a prepaid Visa gift card I'd received months ago was nestled in my wallet. I called customer service to find out if a pin had been established, because I'd had the card for about six months and couldn't recall setting one up. The Visa representative gave me instructions for using the card and then told me my balance was $95 — but the card was given to me with a value of $100.

When I asked where the $5 went, I was told a fee goes into effect after the card is inactive for a certain period of time. The advantage of giving a Visa gift card is that it should work like cash. It seems very sneaky to me to punish someone with a fee for not spending soon enough, and makes me wonder if other gift cards have similar policies. Does it make sense to you that an inactive gift card would go down in value?

lilren lilren 8 years
After I read this post, I looked at the back of some of my gift cards. In the fine print, several say "a service fee of $1.50 each month will be deducted from the remaining balance after 24 months of non-use." Sure seems like a scam to me.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
So wrong!!
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
I'm sure it will be illegal everywhere soon, that seems to be the trend.
barbara20 barbara20 8 years
it's illegal in Michigan too.
jesssa jesssa 8 years
so glad this kind of thing is illegal in ontario. i make sure to tell people this all the time, don't get fooled into purchasing gift cards with an expiry, its not legal!
norabora norabora 8 years
i'm pretty sure that's illegal in california. i know that its illegal for gift cards to expire in california, and that seems like a similar issue.
lildorothyparker lildorothyparker 8 years
A few provinces in Canada (Manitoba, Ontario, BC) have banned fees/expiration dates associated with gift cards. I'm not sure if credit card gift cards are affected by these new regulations (I think they are, but I'm not confident to assert this as fact). Here's a link to the rules/regulations for Ontario: (I know, most of you guys are south of the border, but it's a good basis from which to start lobbying!)
care0531 care0531 8 years
What is the point! We should just give cash for a gift instead. I was given an Amex gift card and they charge you a fee just to use it! Its crazy so you loose money!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
It doesn't make any sense at all, but I know they do it and it's such a pain. My husband gets Visa cards from work sometimes as a reward for giving tests to interviewees and he always has to remember to spend them right away so they don't go down in value. I don't think EVERY gift card goes down in value though; you have to ask and find out if the particular card you've got has an inactivity fee.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i HATE when they do that. my mom had received a few as gifts from her students since she's a teacher and she had given me 3 $100 cards. by the time i got them and went to use them, 2 were worth some where around $75 each, and the 3rd said that it was expired. (WHAT CRAP!). so i had to argue with the amex people about the 'expired' one and got them to reinstate it...but it's just horrible that we lost over $50 in value because of these dumb fees.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
Almost all gift cards do that, though [at least all the ones I've gotten anyway]. It's fairly common practice. It doesn't make any sense, and it's not fair, but it's an easy way for the companies to get more money out of the transaction. You buy a certain amount, and then you don't use it, they lock some of it so that the money goes ONLY to them. This is why I'm wary of gift cards. If you want me to go buy something at my favorite store, just give me CASH or a CHECK - not a gift card!
Smacks83 Smacks83 8 years
Sneaky sneaky! Thats so uncool that they would take money from you (even though its already paid!). I swear its just easier/safer to give cash (although maybe a little more tacky. I don't know why but i feel like theres a big difference between giving a gift card and cash. I'm starting to favor cash though, at least people can't take fees off of that).
michlny michlny 8 years
OMG - I have $600 in Amex gift cards that I haven't used in 2 years!!!! They're probably worth ZERO!
yellowshoe yellowshoe 8 years
Wow! I recently bought one of these for my brother's birthday present, but I thought they didn't charge these fees until it had been one year from date of purchase/activation? I better give him a call to make sure he used it!
skigurl skigurl 8 years
no, it makes no sense at all - what is the inactivity time?
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