Gift vouchers 

Does a shop have to honour a gift voucher indefinitely if there’s no expiry date on it?

Yes, unless the shop has closed down or changed ownership. Many gift vouchers will show an expiry period of 6 to 12 months to give you a reasonable time to use it. If there is no expiry date then you can use the voucher whenever you want.

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My gift card expired a week ago. Is it completely worthless now?

Generally, if you have a gift card (e.g. a Prezzy Card) or gift voucher which has an expiry date on it, then the retailer has no obligation to accept it after the expiry date has passed.

However, if it has only recently expired, it is well worth checking with the retailer anyway. Some retailers have a “grace period”, during which they will accept an expired gift card or voucher. The grace period can vary depending on the retailer and is completely at the retailer’s discretion.

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I have a gift voucher to a shop that has closed down. What are my rights?

Your gift voucher makes you an unsecured creditor of that business so if the shop has closed down, you may have the right to make a claim. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get what you are owed if the business has been put into liquidation or gone into receivership. 

You have a couple of other options if the gift card/voucher was bought from a third party (e.g. another retailer), or if it was paid for by credit card:

  • If the gift card was bought from a third party then it is worth trying to seek a refund from that retailer. Under the Consumer Guarantees Act you have the right to ask for a remedy from a trader if there is a problem with the goods (i.e. the gift card).
  • If the gift card/voucher was paid for by credit card then the credit card holder can contact their credit card company and ask for a chargeback.

To minimise the risk of losing your money you should:

  • buy vouchers that can be used at more than one retailer or service provider, e.g. petrol vouchers, or vouchers that are issued by trade associations
  • before buying a voucher, ask the store if they have a trust account to protect voucher holders
  • if you are given a voucher as a gift, use it as soon as possible

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The shop that sold my gift voucher has changed hands. Does the new owner have to honour the voucher?

If the gift voucher could only be used in a particular shop and that shop has changed ownership, then unfortunately the new owner has no legal obligation to honour your gift voucher. 

However the new owner may be willing to do so as a gesture of goodwill – so it won’t hurt to ask.

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I have a gift voucher for $50 from a store but have only spent $40. Can I demand the change in cash?

No, the shop doesn’t have to give you change unless it says so on the voucher. It is up to you to use the voucher’s full value. Some stores will give you another voucher instead of change depending on the store’s policy.

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I’ve lost my gift voucher. Does the store have to replace it?

Generally if you lose your gift voucher the store doesn’t have to replace it. However they might, if it was made out to you specifically and is not transferable to anyone else - so it is worth checking with the store about this.

If you lose a gift card that is a pre-loaded debit card, you may be able to get a replacement card but again you’ll need to check with the store. If the gift card is replaceable then it’s likely you will  be charged a fee for the replacement card.

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I was given a voucher for surfing lessons but the lessons keep being cancelled. What can I do?

Under the Consumer Guarantees Act you are entitled to receive the service (surfing lessons) within a reasonable time period, and it’s the service providers responsibility to ensure this.

Before you talk to them you should check your voucher for the terms and conditions. This tells you what you should expect when you redeem the voucher (for example, when it can be redeemed) so you know where you stand.

It is worth noting that if you are unhappy with goods or service obtained through a voucher purchased from a daily deal site, it is the daily deal site that has to sort out the problem. They can’t just fob you off to deal with the provider of the goods or service – even if it says so on their terms and conditions.

When you talk to the trader, be prepared to say what you want them to do about the situation – for example whether you want a refund, an extension of the expiry date on the voucher or a promise to deliver the service within an agreed time frame.

If you and the trader can’t come to agreement on the issue you can make a formal complaint. It’s a good idea to do this in writing as it can be used as evidence of your complaint if you need to escalate the matter at a later date e.g. make a claim at the Disputes Tribunal.

More information about making a complaint and settling a dispute is on our Complaints and disputes pages.