Merchants are required to comply with certains rules regarding prepaid cards redeemable for specific goods or services. The following information may be of interest to you.

For a prepaid card that can be redeemed for specific goods or services, the law prohibits merchants from:

  • indicating an expiry date; or
  • determining a period after which the card can no longer be used, such as 2 years after the card is purchased.

The amount you paid to purchase the card can never be "lost" because it has expired. As long as it has not been redeemed a card that was paid $50 will always keep its value, even if the value of the service has increased. Furthermore, the balance of your card will be valid as long as you have not spent it.

This rule has been in effect since June 30, 2010. If your card's expiry date is on or after June 30, 2010, this expiry date is not valid: you may still use your card.

Surcharges

A merchant may indicate on the card:

  • the value of the goods or services at the time of purchase;
  • the date as of which a surcharge may apply to obtain the goods or services.

This information must be indicated on the card in order for the merchant to charge additional fees.

For example: you purchase a gift card in the amount of $50 for a massage. You use the card 2 years later. The same massage is now worth $60. If this information was specified on the card, the merchant may charge you the $10 difference.

Cards providing unlimited access to a service

Cards that offer unlimited use of a service for a specified period can have an expiry date. This is the case, for example, for cards that:

  • allow you to ride the subway or the bus as many times as you wish in a month;
  • give you access to an amusement park or tourist attraction as many times as you wish over the course of a summer.

Calling cards: cellular phones and long distance calls

Prepaid cards for cellular phones may have an expiry date.

Long distance calling cards may not have an expiry date.

This table indicates in which cases a prepaid card can no longer be used as a result of an expiry date or the end of a determined period.

Type of Card Example Expiry Date Allowed
Card that can be redeemed for specific goods or services Card that can be redeemed for a one-night stay at a major hotel chain No
Card that can be used as cash Card worth $100 that can be redeemed from a merchant, e.g. at a hardware store No
Calling card: cellular phones Card purchased for $25 valid for 100 minutes of local calls Yes
Calling card: long distance calls Card purchased for $10 allowing you to make calls calls to the United States No
Card for unlimited use of a service Card valid for unlimited use of bus services for one month Yes
Card offered by a tourism business One-day ski pass valid for a specific winter season No
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