Gift Card Expiration Laws are Illegal - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Gift Card Expiration Laws are Illegal

KENNEWICK, Wash.- Just a week since Christmas and millions of Americans are already trying to figure out what to spend their gift cards on.

Many people think they have to use their gift cards because they'll expire, but Washington law says retailers cannot put an expiration date on the cards.

The State Legislature passed the law in the summer of 2004 to protect consumers who wait to spend their's.

Businesses also can't charge your card for inactivity, except in a few limited circumstances.

The laws don't apply to bank issued cards.

Even though they've been around for a while, the new rules are still surprising people.

"It's a good deal. I've had gift cards expire in the past. I've also had them decrease in value, you know you go to cash them and instead of 25 bucks it's only worth 20," said Wallace Ruff, a shopper.

"Come on, bring it in and try it out, it's gonna work for you," said Best Buy salesman Eddie Castillo. 

Another interesting part of the law, if you're card has less than $5 on it, the merchant has to give you cash for the remainder if you ask for it.  That's there to protect you if you can't buy anything for less than $5.