Because balances on gift cards don't work in the same way traditional credit card debt does, Congress included rules stating that a gift card must carry information on its expiration date and fee rules on its packaging. But these rules also allow retailers to keep cards with the old, information-free packaging on the shelves until January 31, 2011, as long as they were produced before the law was finally passed, Consumer Reports said.
Congress was successfully lobbied by Network Branded Prepaid Card Association, which argued that making the rules effective immediately would result in companies destroying 100 million cards "needlessly," the report said. As a result, consumers should be on the lookout for old cards without the federally-mandated information before they take on credit card debt to purchase them.
Prepaid gift cards for certain retailers are popular gifts around the holiday season, but many carry expiration dates that some consumers may not be aware of.