New Texas law will give you cash back on gift cards

Gift cards
Gift cards

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A new Texas law effective Sept. 1 allows consumers to receive a cash refund on gift cards and certificates with a balance of less than $2.50.

“If a customer comes in using a store value card–a gift card–and makes a purchase from that retailer, then once that transaction is completed if there is less than $2.50 value left on that card,” President of Texas Retailers Association Ronnie Volkening said, “the customer can request the remaining cash on the card.”

Volkening said the process is simple, but customers need to keep in mind that the law only applies to store value cards.

“It’s going to be for cards that are issued by stores, for example a Macy’s card or a Best Buy card. Or cards issued by stores with intent to be used to purchase items in that store specifically.”

House Bill 2391, passed in May, makes Texas the 10th state to pass a law of this kind. According to the advocacy group Consumer’s Union, California offers the most cash back on gift cards with a balance of $10. Other states, like Rhode Island and Vermont, only offer refunds on gift cards with a remaining balance of $1.

“I did not actually know that this was going into effect,” resident Christi Garza said. “If maybe I had heard about it I could have been saving those gift cards or keeping track of them instead of just tossing them away.”

Volkening said the only problem with this law is that not many people, both retailers and customers, know about it.

“This law has not received a great deal of attention, so it is entirely possible that on Sept. 1 a customer may walk into any given store and they may not be away of it,” Volkening said. “So, there will just have to be a little bit of a transition and an awareness period for them to become aware that as of Sept. 1 if a customer makes this request and the store valued card is less than $2.50 then they need to fulfill the customer’s request.”

This law excludes prepaid calling cards, cards issued by a rewards or loyalty program, cards issued by a financial institution or an air carrier, and cards that had an initial value of $5 or less to which additional value could not be added.

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