The holiday season is upon us and as Montanans gear up for Christmas and Thanksgiving many will be purchasing and receiving gift cards. Each state has different rules with gift cards and as Montana Attorney General Tim Fox explains, Montana has some special protections in place for gift card recipients.

“Under Montana law, a single merchant gift card or gift certificate never expires,” Fox said. “If it is a multiple merchant gift card or gift certificate, under federal law, it will expire after five years. The other thing I think you might want to know is that the types of calling cards and the credit cards that you can put money in to, that are not on your specific account, those things do not fall into the law and those do expire.”

Another element of Montana law helps turn small gift card amounts into cash…

“If you get a gift card or gift certificate that was originally more than $5, in Montana once it gets below $5 you can actually ask the merchant to cash it out for you,” Fox said. “That is a good option if for some reason you can’t really buy much at that merchant with less than $5 and you just want the cash.”

Gift cards are treated like cash by vendors and there isn’t a required ID check when using them, so it’s important not to misplace or lose them because once they are spent, they are spent.