Government of Nova Scotianovascotia.ca
novascotia.caGovernment of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada
 
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Nova Scotia Gift Cards

There are two types of gift cards: those with dollar values and those for specific goods and services, such as a spa day or hotel stay, which do not indicate a dollar value.

Gift cards within Nova Scotia may not have expiry dates.

  • all gift card rules must be disclosed--either directly on the card or in writing at the time of sale
  • retailers will not be allowed to charge fees, except for customizing or
    replacement fees

Nova Scotia's regulations are similar to those in other provinces across Canada.

Features of Regulation Gift Cards Issued on or after Feb. 1, 2010
Expiry date With dollar values on cards

No expiry date*

Expiry date Goods and Services
(e.g. spa, haircut, dinner, movie - with no dollar value on card)

No expiry date* 

Fees All

No fees**

Required Information on Card All
  • Expiry date, if applicable
  • Fees, if applicable
  • Return policy that may apply to purchases made with the gift card, if applicable
  • Contact details for user to check balance on card
Other information required in writing All Any other restrictions, limitations, terms and conditions
  • * Cards exempted from regulation:
    • cards for charitable and promotional purposes
    • pre-paid telecom or credit-card branded cards (e.g. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club)
  • ** Fees exempted from regulation:
    • customization
    • replacement

 

Cards Issued After February 1, 2010 - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does this mean that any gift card I purchase will no longer expire?
  2. What about gift cards sold by malls? Does this mean that they will no longer expire?
  3. Why are gift cards issued by stores, restaurants and malls covered in the regulations, while prepaid credit card branded cards are not?
  4. What about prepaid cards? Will they continue to expire?
  5. What are cards issued for charitable and promotional purposes? Why are these exempted from the regulations?
  6. What are dormancy or inactivity fees? How do I know if I am being charged these fees?
  7. What if a gift card for a massage was bought after February 1, and the price of the massage now has changed. Will I be charged the price of the massage when the card was purchased, or the current price of the service?
  8. What if the price of a service, say a massage or manicure/pedicure, has changed over the years? Will I be charged the price of the service when the card was bought or the price of the service when the card is redeemed?
  9. Can gift cards be refunded?
  10. If I bought an item with a gift card, can I get a refund or an exchange for it?

Does this mean that any gift card I purchase will no longer expire?

Yes.  The objective of these regulations is for consumers to be able to keep the dollar value of the gift cards or certificates at any time, much like the value of cash.

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What about gift cards sold by malls? Does this mean that they will no longer expire?

Yes, these regulations cover both cards for particular stores and those that can be used at various stores within a mall. They will not expire.  

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Why are gift cards issued by stores, restaurants and malls covered in the regulations, while prepaid credit card branded cards are not?

Prepaid credit card branded cards such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Diners Club, are more like banking products rather than gift cards.  These cards may be redeemed all over the world.


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What about prepaid cards? Will they continue to expire?

Yes. Prepaid telephone cards and some other things you may pre-pay such as event tickets, gym memberships, coupons and points or loyalty cards, are not considered "gift cards."

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What are cards issued for charitable and promotional purposes? Why are these exempted from the regulations?

Cards issued for charitable purposes are those cards that businesses give to charity to help raise funds, such as a $20 gift card donated by a store for use in a fund-raising auction.  These are exempted because they fall under different tax considerations.

Promotional cards, on the other hand, are given for free or at less than full value to consumers for marketing purposes. 

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What are dormancy or inactivity fees? How do I know if I am being charged these fees?

Dormancy fees, sometimes called inactivity fees, are fees taken off the balance of the card after a certain number of months that the card is not used. 
 
Under the new regulations, these fees can no longer be charged.

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What if a gift card for a massage was bought after February 1, and the price of the massage now has changed. Will I be charged the price of the massage when the card was purchased, or the current price of the service?

Additional charges should only be applied if the business indicated this in writing at the time of the gift card purchase. If not, the business should honour the card at the current value of the good or service.


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What if the price of a service, say a massage or manicure/pedicure, has changed over the years? Will I be charged the price of the service when the card was bought or the price of the service when the card is redeemed?

If no dollar value is indicated on the card, the business must either honour the card for the good or service or clearly disclose to the consumer that if the card is not used within a certain time period, additional charges may apply.

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Can gift cards be refunded?

The regulations do not cover refund policies.

In many cases, gifts cards cannot be returned, although some stores may allow it within a specific time period. You should always ask about the refund policy before you purchase your gift cards.

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If I bought an item with a gift card, can I get a refund or an exchange for it?

Return policies are not regulated, but stores are required to indicate their return policies on the card. 

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