Gift cards and discount vouchers

  • Gift cards and discount vouchers are an alternative to cash to buy products or services from participating businesses.
  • Gift cards and vouchers must meet some specific requirements.

What the ACCC does

  • We educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities.
  • We accept reports where people consider a business is doing something they shouldn’t do. We use those reports to inform our education, compliance and enforcement work.
  • If a business breaks the rules about gift cards, we can investigate and may take some form of compliance or enforcement action.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t approve gift cards or vouchers before they’re supplied.
  • We don’t resolve individual disputes about gift cards or vouchers.

Discount voucher rules

About discount vouchers

Discount vouchers offer a discount off specified products and services. They include:

  • shopper dockets
  • gift cards and vouchers
  • loyalty stamp cards and their online or in-app equivalents.

The voucher rules must be clear

Read the terms and conditions carefully before purchasing or using a discount voucher.  

A business must clearly state all conditions and restrictions on how discount vouchers can be used.

The discount or gift may only be available if buying:

  • from specified businesses
  • another particular product or service from the business
  • at certain times or on certain days
  • before the offer expires or stocks run out.

Gift card rules

About gift cards

A gift card, sometimes known as a gift voucher, is usually loaded with an amount of money.

The person who receives the gift card can exchange it for goods or services to the value of the amount on the card.

A gift card may be in physical or electronic form. It may be provided as a card, voucher or a code sent electronically.

Gift cards can’t usually be exchanged for cash.

Gift card conditions must be clear

A business must clearly state:

  • all conditions and restrictions on use of the gift card, including whether there are any limitations on the number of transactions
  • the expiry date of the gift card
  • the activation expiry date for cards that need to be activated
  • whether the card can be reloaded or topped up.

There are rules that businesses must follow when issuing gift cards. There are penalties if a business breaks the rules for gift cards.

Gift cards must be valid for at least 3 years

Gift cards purchased on or after 1 November 2019 must be redeemable for at least 3 years after the day they were supplied or purchased.

The 3-year rule does not apply to gift cards that are:

  • able to be reloaded or topped up
  • donated for promotional purposes. For example, a business handing out $15 vouchers to passers-by for its grand opening.
  • available only for a specified period. For example, performance of a visiting ballet company.
  • supplied at a genuine discount. For example, $60 card for a massage valued at $100.
  • part of an employee reward scheme
  • part of a customer loyalty program
  • second-hand gift cards
  • part of a temporary marketing promotion. For example, customers buy a certain product from Business A, which provides a $50 voucher to use at Business B.
  • supplied to certain charities or government agencies.

The expiry date must be shown

The expiry date must be prominently displayed.

The expiry can be shown as a period of time. If so, the issue date must be displayed, so the recipient knows the expiry date. For example, “Valid for 4 years from the date of issue. Date of issue: March 2021”.

Check the expiry date on the gift card or voucher carefully. Businesses do not need to honour the gift card after a valid expiry date has passed.

If there is no expiry date, this must be stated on the gift card. For example, “No expiry date” or similar wording.

The display rule does not apply to:

  • second-hand gift cards
  • gift cards that are supplied to certain charities and government agencies
  • gift cards that can be reloaded or topped up.

‘Post-supply’ fees must be included

Gift cards purchased after 1 November 2019 must not include any fees or charges the recipient must pay after the gift card has been purchased.

Businesses cannot have terms and conditions on gift cards that allow them to charge post-supply fees.

Post-supply fees may include things like:

  • gift card activation fees
  • gift card account keeping fees
  • balance inquiry fees
  • inactivity fees.

Post-supply fees do not include fees or charges that:

  • are booking fees, where those booking fees are the same, or largely the same, as booking fees charged when using a payment method other than a gift card
  • are for exchanging currencies
  • relate to the reissue of a gift card that has been lost, stolen or damaged
  • are payment surcharges.

The post-supply fee rule does not apply to:

  • second-hand gift cards
  • gift cards that are supplied to certain charities and government agencies
  • gift cards that can be reloaded or topped up.

When a business closes, changes owners or goes bust

Changes to other circumstances of a business supplying the gift card, gift voucher or discount voucher may affect the rights of the consumer.

Business temporarily closes or limits trading

Businesses may temporarily close or restrict their trading for an extended period and this may impact the use of gift cards.

For example, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, many businesses temporarily closed their physical stores. But many were able to continue to trade in some capacity, for example online-only trading. So, in many cases consumers were still able to use their gift card even though the business’s physical stores were closed.

However, if, in these circumstances, the gift card can't be used because of a restriction the business placed on its use, the business should provide some form of remedy.

This can include extending the gift card expiry date to cover the period that the card could not be used. For example, where a business allowed gift cards to be used for purchases in its physical store only, even though it was trading in an online capacity only during the COVID-19 restrictions.

Business has new owners

If the business changes owners, the new owner must honour existing gift cards and discount vouchers if the business was:

  • sold as a ‘going concern’ - that is, the assets and liabilities of the business were sold by the previous owner to the new owner
  • owned by a company rather than an individual, and the new owner purchased the shares in the company.

Business becomes insolvent

If the company operating the business becomes insolvent, the consumer becomes an ‘unsecured creditor’ of the company.

See When a business goes bust for more information.

See also

Explanatory Memorandum to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Gift Cards) Act 2018

Explanatory Statement to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Gift Cards) Regulations 2018

False or misleading claims

Next steps if there's a problem

Contact the business

If you experience a problem with a gift card or voucher, your first step is to contact the business to explain the problem.

If the business doesn’t resolve the problem, there are more steps you can take.

Get help contacting a business or taking a problem further

Report the problem with the gift card or voucher to the ACCC

Anyone can make a report to the ACCC about a problem with a gift card or voucher.

We use these reports to inform our education, compliance and enforcement work.

Make a report to the ACCC