LIHUE — A bill introduced by Representative Scot Z. Matayoshi requires Hawaii merchants to refund consumers the remaining balance of their gift cards if the value remaining is less than five dollars.
“If you are given a gift card and use most of it leaving just a small balance, the card is often just dropped in a drawer and forgotten,” said Rep. Matayoshi. “In Hawaii, gift cards don’t expire, so the merchant gets to keep that balance. With so many gift cards issued by mainland companies, that money is being held and spent out of state instead of returned to local consumers.”
HB314, now Act 236, requires a certificate issuer to redeem the remaining value of a gift certificate or gift card for cash if it has a balance left of less than $5.
The bill, which takes effect on January 1, 2020, amends state law section §481B-13 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. The only exemption is for gift certificates that are issued as part of an award, loyalty, or promotional program, or to a not-for-profit charity organization where no money or anything of value is given to the issuer by the consumer in exchange for the gift certificate.
According to the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, 12 other states have laws requiring that a merchant issue cash on remaining gift certificate balances.