ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Legislation signed by Governor Hochul regarding gift cards and certificates will go into effect Saturday, according to the New York State Division of Consumer Protection.

According to the legislation, gift cards or certificates purchased after Saturday will remain valid for at least nine years from the date of purchase. Additionally, those with a gift card or certificate worth $5 or less can opt to receive cash for the balance on the card.

Consumer Protection officials explained the new law will prohibit all fees in order to prevent the value of cards and certificates from going down with one exception — gift cards or certificates redeemable at multiple locations may charge a maximum, one-time activation fee of $9.

The purchase date for a gift card and certificate determines the rights that exist for a consumer:

  • Any gift cards or certificates purchased between September 21, 2004, and August 21, 2010, there is no law requiring a minimum expiration date. After 12 months of inactivity, an inactivity fee may be assessed.
  • Gift cards or certificates purchased between August 22, 2010, and December 24, 2016, the expiration date is at least five years from the date of purchase. Only a one-time inactivity fee may be assessed after 12 months of inactivity.
  • Cards or certificates bought between December 25, 2016, and December 9, 2022, the expiration date is at least five years from the purchase date. After the 24th month of inactivity, the one-time fee may be assessed, however, if the gift card is presented within three years after the purchase date, any activity fees will be waived.
  • Cards bought after December 10 will expire at least nine years after the purchase date with no inactivity fees.

Consumer Protection officials also provided tips while buying and using gift cards and certificates:

  • Always verify the legitimacy of the retailers before buying a gift card.
  • Check the packaging to make sure the security seals are intact.
  • Be cautious about buying gift cards from third parties or auctions.
  • Review the terms and conditions before buying.
  • Beware of scammers looking for payment in the form of gift cards.