New Law Allows Texans to Cash In on Low-Value Gift Cards

Start checking your old wallets.

A new law that goes into effect Sept. 1 will allow Texans to receive a cash refund on gift cards or certificates that have a balance of less than $2.50. The transaction must take place in person and there are exceptions. The law will not apply to prepaid calling cards, cards issued as part of a loyalty or rewards program, cards issued as a refund for returned merchandise, cards issued by a bank or airline, or cards initially worth $5 that cannot have value added to them.

The law's author is state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, a former business owner who says he penned the bill to strike a balance between the rights of consumers and retailers.

"I believe all of us are carrying around gift cards where we've used up virtually all the money," said Bohac, who owned gift shops. "I wanted it to be $5, but $2.50, it seemed like people could live with that."

Though he acknowledged that retailers could see it as an infringement on a private contract, Bohac called it a "lay-up bill" because it faced little opposition in the Legislature. It passed in the House by 110-20 and in the Senate 26-5.

The Texas Retailers Association, which represents thousands of stores in the state, keeps close tabs on legislation affecting businesses. President Ronnie Volkening said the association reviewed the legislation with its member stores around the time the bill was introduced and heard few complaints.

"We don't think that's going to be a heavy burden," he said of providing cash refunds. "It's consistent with good customer service to volunteer to do that."

This is not the first law to address gift cards in the state. In 2005, lawmakers passed a bill that required expiration dates on gift cards to be clearly disclosed.

State law requires that retailers send money from unused or expired gift cards to the state comptroller's office after a certain period of time. That office announced in December that it was holding nearly $12 million worth of unclaimed gift cards. The new law is not likely to significantly change that. A small fraction of that amount, about $63,000, comes from gift cards that have a balance of less than $2.50, according to the comptroller's office.

A number of states have laws requiring cash refunds for gift cards with low balances. California offers the highest amount: refunds on gift cards with a balance of up to $10, according to 2013 data from the advocacy group Consumers Union. Rhode Island and Vermont offered the lowest, a refund on gift cards with a balance of up to $1.


Source: The Texas Tribune

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TAGS:   card services, holidays, trends

2015 introduces mobile gift cards in time for holiday season


Online discount retailer introduced a gift card feature into its mobile application, in which consumers can buy and share certificates with friends and family to further drive mobile sales and positive brand sentiment., born digitally, is highly aware of the potential mobile offers for sales and retail efforts. Its recent update now allows users to purchase, print and share gift cards for friends and family, which can offer the retailer a bigger role in the holiday gift-giving season.

“Gifting through apps is common so there is no breakthrough news here,” said Jeff Hasen, co-founder of Gotta Mobilize, Seattle, WA. “Ease of purchase is a major driver as is the ability to get merchandise fast and for little to no shipping cost.”

Gifting mobile capabilities

The retailer’s update of its mobile app introduced its users to gift card features. app users can now purchase digital and actual cards through a separate tab.

The gift cards can be shipped to the individual, sent via email or printed at home. Users click the Gift Card tab of the app, select an amount, enter information for the buyer and receiver and complete payment. Consumers have a similar experience to purchasing a gift card at a bricks-and-mortar location, but with more convenience. offers discount items to shoppers looking for a deal on more expensive products. Its digital store aims to take the work and stress out of price searching for consumers, instead enticing customers with its low prices that do not require coupons or specials.

Its business model offers an ideal shopping experience for those shopping for holiday presents. However, the upcoming retail time is known for a significant amount of gift cards.

The introduction of gift cards into its mobile app will allow holiday sales to trickle into the next year. The gift cards will likely draw in new shoppers through previous customer loyalty, by having frequent buyers purchasing cards to share with those who are not.

Many consumers are also likely to spend more than the amount of the gift card, which increases sales even further for the retailer.

Holiday mobile importance

Digital gifting company Yiftee showed the potential mobile can offer with gift card. The company recently allowed brands and retailers to reward their loyal followers with egifts via Twitter, increasing sales and securing devoted customers (see more).

The app update allows for seamless purchasing of gift cards through mobile and desktop. Users can shift between’s desktop Web site and mobile app with little interruption, through users’ connect accounts.

This seamless experience will be vital this upcoming holiday season. Mobile will be at the forefront of commerce, and retailers will be leveraging its capabilities to boost sales through further personalization based on consumer data and securing greater omnichannel integration (see more).

“Overstock has a reputation for a wide selection so a buyer of a card can feel confident that the recipient will find something he or she likes,” Mr. Hasen said. “The ability to buy the card on mobile. then move on with your day will appeal to some for sure.”


Source: Mobile Commerce Daily

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TAGS:   card services, holidays