DALLAS — Just over a year ago, we explained how gift cards that are not used sometimes become the gifts that just keep on giving -- going from one person to another, and then to the state of Texas.
In Texas, unredeemed balances can be considered abandoned and become unclaimed property in the Texas Comptroller’s Office.
Unless you contact that office to claim the card balance, it eventually reverts to the state of Texas. In late 2021, the state had accumulated about $27 million in unclaimed gift card balances.
That has now swelled to $28,606,673.74.
Some of that money, $30.20 to be exact, came from a friend of Right on the Money. So much for the “Happy Holidays” message on his card.
Also, so much for the type on the card that says it’s “good through 12/2025”. That’s because it becomes unclaimed property after the card expires, or on the three-year anniversary of when it was issued, whichever comes first.
Here’s the excerpt of the Texas law that provides for that:
Sec. 72.1016. STORED VALUE CARD. (a) This section applies to a stored value card, as defined by Section 604.001, Business & Commerce Code, other than a card:
(1) to which Chapter 604, Business & Commerce Code, does not apply by operation of Sections 604.002(1)(A) and (C) and 604.002(2)-(5) of that code; or
(2) that is linked to and draws its value solely from a deposit account subject to Chapter 73.
(b) If the existence and location of the owner of a stored value card is unknown to the holder of the property, the stored value card is presumed abandoned to the extent of its unredeemed and uncharged value on the earlier of:
(1) the card's expiration date;
(2) the third anniversary of the date the card was issued, if the card is not used after it is issued, or the date the card was last used or value was last added to the card; or
(3) the first anniversary of the date the card was issued, if the card is not used after it is issued, or the date the card was last used or value was last added to the card, if the card's value represents wages, as defined by Section 61.001, Labor Code.
That three-year anniversary came first in the case of the friend of Right on the Money. If you have the card, you can try to claim back that unclaimed balance. But even if the cardholder in this case had done that, he wouldn’t have gotten all his money back because of special charges from the card issuer.
As his gift card was gathering dust, he was not logging in regularly to check on it. If he had, he would’ve noticed that the card was being dinged $4.95 repeatedly for a “dormancy fee”. That fee can differ by card issuer.
The best advice: Use your card as soon as possible.