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Tips for Buying and Using Gift Cards This Holiday Season

Archived News Release

Tips for Buying and Using Gift Cards This Holiday Season

Ontario Government Helping Protect Holiday Shoppers

Ministry of Consumer Services

The Ontario government is providing valuable tips to protect consumers who plan to purchase gift cards as part of their holiday shopping.

To get the most out of gift cards, consumers should be aware of the following:

  • Gift cards are as good as cash ─ store them in a safe place
  • Keep your gift card receipt as a guarantee of the value of the card ─ you may need it if the card is lost or stolen
  • Read the terms and conditions before you buy a gift card ─ for example, gift cards should not have an expiry date
  • Retailers cannot charge HST on gift cards
  • Cards purchased for use at malls, rather than individual retailers, often come with a one-time activation fee and can be subject to fees after not being used for 15 months
  • Buy your gift card from reputable retailers ─ if the store goes out of business, you may not be able to get your money back.

Protecting Ontario consumers is part of the government's plan to ensure a fair marketplace and help people in their everyday lives. This is part of the Ontario government's economic plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Quick Facts

  • In 2007, Ontario was the first province to ban most retail business gift cards from having an expiry date. This means a gift card can be used to its full value no matter when you decide to use it.
  • Federally-regulated gift cards that resemble credit cards and phone cards may have expiry dates.
  • Gift cards are the second most requested present by Canadians during the holiday season.

Additional Resources


“Before buying or using a gift card, read the fine print. Be a smart consumer so you can enjoy the holiday tradition of giving and receiving — with confidence.”

Tracy MacCharles

Minister of Consumer Services

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