Know your rights: My rights when buying gift vouchers

Evelyn takes a look at some issues you might not be aware of when it comes to vouchers

Written by Evelyn Coffin


Gift vouchers and gift cards can be very convenient gifts, both to give and to receive, but they can also be a little bit tricky to keep track of. Here’s what you should remember when buying or using gift vouchers.

Know where and how to use it

Some gift vouchers can be used in one specific shop, a chain of shops, or a wide range of shops (for example a shopping centre). Before you buy, you should make sure the voucher can be used by the person you’re giving it to.

Read the terms and conditions

This one is so important! These can tell you:

  • Where the voucher is viable
  • What the expiration date is – if there isn’t an expiration date on the voucher you can ask the shop, expiration dates vary widely, so it’s important to know yours so you don’t lose out
  • What you can do with money left over on the voucher – some stores will give you small change, or have partial encashment policies, which means they’ll give you what’s left over
  • If there are any maintenance fees – some gift cards, especially, charge a monthly maintenance fee, and if you don’t use up the card soon enough your balance will be gone.

What happens if you lose a voucher

The shop doesn’t have to replace your voucher, so you should keep it safe, just like you would cash. However, if the voucher was made out specifically in your name, it’s possible they’ll be able to write you a new one, and cancel the first one.

If the shop closes

Where gift vouchers can get tricky is if the shop they’re for goes out of business. When this happens, people with gift vouchers to that shop become unsecured creditors. If this happens to you, you should find out if there’s a liquidator, and register your claim for the amount of the voucher. You’ll get paid after the other creditors, such as banks and the shop’s staff, and it may be difficult to get your money. This is why it’s always best to use up a gift voucher as soon as you can.

Need more information, advice or guidance?

We offer information, advice and guidance about the issues that matter to you. Our online Youth Information Chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm (excluding Bank Holidays).

Our work is supported by