New rules for gift cards

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March 23, 2010 6:46:47 PM PDT
The Federal Reserve has issued new rules to protect consumers from unexpected fees or restrictions on gift cards. The rules take effect August 22.

Gift cards must remain valid for at least five years before they expire. Service or inactivity fees can be imposed only under certain conditions: if the consumer has not used the card for at least a year and if the consumer is given clear disclosures about fees.

No more than one fee can be charged per month.

Congress ordered the Fed to issue these new rules under a law enacted last year.