Expired gift cards during Covid

I received a Jetstar gift card with a three-year expiry before the pandemic, and it has just recently expired. Given two of the three years it was valid was spent under lockdown, I thought Jetstar would be willing to extend it slightly, but they refused. Has anyone else been in a similar situation with gift cards that expired during the pandemic, when they weren’t able to be used?


Welcome to the Community @acarey.

Three years is the required minimum expiry for gift cards. So if you were unable to use the value in that card in three years you could consider it expired as far as the ACCC is concerned.

Then it is up to the business to decide whether to extend or not.

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It has been common practice for some businesses to have expiry dates on their gift cards. It is worth reading this old thread which discusses other examples pre and post Covid.

Businesses possibly have expiry dates which conform to the minimum standards required by the ACCC as the cards would be seen as a form of outstanding credit within the businesses accounting system. When the card was purchased, it would have been accrued against general revenue at that time. When it is used, it is a cost against the general revenue at that time.

There is often mistaken belief that the value if a gift card is held in some sort if trust/special account gaining interest…waiting for its monetary value to be used and withdrawn. If this was the case, expiry dates could be seen as unnecessary. Unfortunately this isn’t the case.

The cards would be a liability against the business and if they sat in their books for many years, liabilities could become considerable and could be seen to impact on the bottom line. Liabilities also have to be reported for public companies.

While it doesn’t seem to make sense as they have in effect received ‘money for nothing’ at the time a gift card was purchased, accountants see it as a liability when they are used.

Expiry dates should also be reasonable, that being giving the gift card holder reasonable time to use the cards. While Covid impacted on ability to use such cards (domestically) from time to time between March 2020 and late last year (except WA which was earlier this year) there has been opportunity to use the cards since then. It could be argued either way whether Jetstar’s position is reasonable.

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Is this how standard accounting practice requires the payments to be recorded? I would have expected any such payments to be recorded against the GL as a liability, and not subject to taxation until redeemed. Does it follow when Jetstar decide a gift card (voucher) has expired the value set aside would transfer to revenue with gst payable, as well as being included as income for tax purposes?

Assume there are some with more accounting knowledge than I who can explain more reliably how it is?

One would assume that regardless, at any point in time the appointed directors would be fully aware of outstanding liabilities from gift cards and have set aside sufficient funds to ensure all the commitments can be met. A further assumption is there are clear guidelines from ASIC?


That is what I have said, but I wasn’t talking about tax implications - that is a complete different topic. I was providing an example of ledger management. The tax implications will be dependent on the business and advice from an accountant/ATO.

The ATO provides an overview of GST implications here…

But as I indicated, each business can have different tax implications and one should seek advice from a qualified tax account.

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No it’s not. How the sale of a gift card is treated for tax purposes in the year it is sold should reflect how the company accounts for and uses the funds.

If the value of the gift cards is not set aside and simply a book entry where does the money a consumer has offered up in good faith for the card go? It’s a liability.

There is no reasonable excuse for a business not honouring that liability whether it’s 12 months, 3 years or 10 years after the date of purchase. To suggest otherwise is to condone theft. If we are to look at the alternate position of a consumer owing a business a payment. How long will the law enable a business to pursue an unpaid debt, through legal claim and or a debt collector? It’s much longer than a gift card a business chooses to steal the value of after 3 years. Feel free to say it’s legal theft. It’s not reasonable or fair for Jetstar or any other business to keep the value of what has been a free loan?

Yes it is. You are confusing two separate issues. How it deals with it on its account ledger is very different to tax implications. A ledger tracks financial information for a business. Information and reports from a ledger can be used for tax reporting purposes and determining tax implications - not everything on a ledger is used for tax purposes at a specific time. How a business deals with the revenue from gift cards for taxation purposes, needs specialist tax advice.

It isn’t set aside. As indicated above this is a mistaken belief.

It will appear as a liability on the books. A business will cover the liability when it is due from general revenue at the time, no different to say when a loan repayment is due. If a business has to set aside for its liabilities, it wouldn’t then need to apply for loans as it would hold funds to cover the loan as well as have a loan liability on its books - doesn’t make sense.

The value gift card is treated as a accrued expense that is settled when the gift card is redeemed. Our own specialist tax accountant has explained in detail to us how to manage gift card or vouchers as a standard approach in an accounting ledger. Apologies if it is not clear, but I have tried to explain it the best way I can. Taxation implications of gift card revenues are very different and as outlined above, requires specialist advice to when the revenue is reported.

It isn’t stealing. If is was, then placing expiry dates on food products would be seen as stealing as well (paying for something that can’t be used).

While I might not necessarily agree with some expiry dates for issued gift cards, the expiry dates are a condition of sale agreed on their purchase and becomes a future liability for the business. If say a business has 10% of its revenue in gift cards, if these aren’t used for 10 years, then in effect in 10 years time the business would have zero potential revenue if all gift cards issued were redeemed at the 10 year mark. This may significant ramifications to the financial status of the business. This is why some business chose to use expiries. A business needs to determine its own risks and what is in the best interest of the consumer and business.

A consumer also needs to consider that the longer a gift card is held, the higher the risk that the gift card can’t be redeemed…such as due to business takeovers, insolvencies, card being lost/misplaced etc. I personally wouldn’t be purchasing or accepting gift cards unless I know that they would be used within a reasonable time.

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So the business wins and the consumer looses because the business refuses to protect the value it has taken from the consumer. No need to reply. It is a BS argument to suggest the business deserves to take without giving in return. Even a lotto ticket is legally required to return the majority of the funds offered up for the tickets. No right or wrong. Just a very different view of whether consumers deserve better.

It’s more than self evident we see this very differently from each other.
The real question is for those who now have the say in Canberra as to which view should prevail.

Unfortunate situation. I had a Jetstar club membership that went to waste during the lockdowns - not that I would have gone anywhere. Just chalk it up to a loss :frowning:

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Not confusing reality with idealism a company like Jetstar with accountants and tax literate IT systems should be able to navigate P/L/liabilities over time and carry forward credits and liabilities. My personal tax software for the USA keeps a running tally of certain credits building and being used for a decade (as they expire if not used) to derive the current year value, eg not a difficult proposition.

Treasury reflects the state of play.

Giving a ‘bye’ to a company to essentially take one’s money for no product or service is obviously our law but there ought to be a different law, noting Australia is not unique. It is common for gift cards to be considered as cash (eg if you lose it you lost it) but if the ‘cash’ is still in one’s hand has it been lost?

My view is that as a minimum a loss through an expired gift card not being honoured should be tax deductible as a loss against income for the gift card holder. There are complicating issues whatever is contemplated so I am not interested in a discussion about viability of this or that just the concept not the details of addressing expiring gift cards becoming gifts to corporate treasuries at the expense of the gift card holder.

Since our tax laws are comprised of some 14,000 pages and I am not an expert practitioner it would not surprise if it does fall into a too hard basket because of business friendly legislation over decades, however anything in legislation can be done, undone, and made better or worse pollies willing, which they are universally disinclined to do unless they are working for a vested interest - eg usually not us.


So the responsibility of not using the gift card becomes that of the taxpayer. I don’t think this is good use of taxpayer monies.

There is already precedence about the timing for unclaimed monies…that within the banking system…


As I indicated above, I don’t necessarily agree with the expiry dates for issued gift cards, but, if there is to be expiry dates these should possibly follow that already established for the banking system. That being 7 years (noting that it used to be 3 years). 7 years would be more than reasonable, but as indicated above, 7 years may not guarantee that the gift card can be used by a consumer at some time in the future.

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I prefer to look at it as since the taxpayer (through government) is essentially encouraging businesses to do what I see as the wrong thing so should bear some of the burden. To each our own. In a better world the business would provide value for the gift card in some form or another.

It is not as if so many special interest groups do not get their own value out of us taxpayers.

That idea may have some sort of merit if gift cards were a taxable thing. If it could not be used then the tax paid at one’s marginal tax rate could be claimed back.

Your idea smacks of the ‘privatise gains but socialise losses’ principle espoused by some.

I did state ‘as a minimum’ not that it was an ideal. Perhaps another way to look at it is it could encourage businesses to do better by indirect actions, be they a change in respective financial or tax laws. It is not as if most of our governments are not solidly behind


That is a very strange idea.

The general principle of tax deductions are that they are for costs incurred during earning income, which this does not fit.

Also it is having the public purse provide compensation for losses incurred by people in making commercial transactions with business. Why on earth would you create such a precedent?

Thirdly it is unfair in that the remedy is only available to those who have a taxable income. How is that equitable?

Lastly, it does nothing to reduce the bad behaviour of businesses who try to get out of their obligations. If anything it has the perverse consequence of covering their failures from public money so that the affected individual will be less likely to pursue the company for it.

This remedy to deal with the situation of gift cards expiring due to a pandemic this is not well thought out.

One reason is there is no data on how often it occurs. Providing a tax deduction would start populating whether it was a common problem.

General principles are whatever government makes them.

As I indicated debating and discussing details of potential improvements and how to implement them is not something I’ll engage in beyond having suggested a minimalist possibility. I could contribute an essay but chose not to in the forum. Caveat emptor and every man for himself are common ideologies not everyone shares.

I received Melbourne Central Gift Cards for my Birthday late 2019 with 3 years expiry. The majority of the time I could have used this card the central was closed during COVID. When I approached both Melbourne Central/GPT Group and GIVV a few months ago to see if they’ll extend the validity , they flat out said NO.
This was the final reply :
"Unfortunately, as per the terms and conditions, gift cards cannot be extended. Even though you were told you to contact the marketing team, the rule here at Melbourne Central is that we do not extend gift card expiry dates. Some centres might do it, but we cannot.”

The cards had only expired less than 8 weeks before when I contacted them. I thought it was particularly unfair , because I could only use these gift cards in-store. I had other cards from various retailers who had online shops where I could have used their cards, but they agreed to extend their cards for me to use by the end of this year. I’m sharing this to warn others to think twice before getting a gift card from here. Their customer service was also not up to scratch ,as there was a lot of to-ing fro-ing between whose responsibility is it to handle my query - GIVV or GPT Group, customer service or marketing department etc… until I just got that 3 line reply.

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Hi @Bini, welcome to the community.

I, like Choice, believe that gift cards should not have an expiry date. The potential only grounds for an expiry is that a business ceases to operate (either through insolvency, closure or possibly under some takeover scenarios).

The message from Melbourne Central/GPT Group and GIVV is rather blunt/direct. They possibly have taken this approach as while you may have had many months (possibly good part of a year) not being able to use the gift cards when Melbourne was in lockdown, there has been some opportunity to use the gift cards prior to Covid, during Covid when visiting shopping centres was possible and after the easing of restrictions in late 2022.

The Melbourne Central Gift Card appears to be an EFTPOS gift card. It is likely this card, like other EFTPOS cards, they have a expiry date which is nominated by the card issuer - that being EFTPOS. This is where the 36 month currency period comes from. If this is the case, it may be difficult for Melbourne Central/GPT Group and GIVV to try and work out if the gift card has been used and what residual amount may be on the gift card to allow it to be rolled over onto another gift card.

It can also be used at a number of centres inluding:

Charlestown Square
Rouse Hill Town Centre
Wollongong Central

Casuarina Square

Chirnside Park
Highpoint Shopping Centre
Melbourne Central
Parkmore Shopping Centre

As you have 8 weeks left, it may be looking to see what is your nearest centre and making purchases there which you would have done at your usual shopping centre. It is also worth noting that there are also fees associated with the use of the gift card.

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Thank you for the welcome and advice, @phb

I wish I had time left to use those cards. The Gift Cards expired end of July 2022 (my family/friends got them a bit in advance for my Birthday in late 2019) . I contacted GPT and GIVV requesting extension around mid/late September. I understand that there may have been times when I could have possibly used the gift cards when restrictions were easing, but normally we would get a full 3 years to use them, but I didn’t get that 3 years time to use the cards. Number of factors could also prevent someone from using cards straightaway, such as - serious illness, being out of town etc - esp for cards that you can only use in-store and in limited shops. I was under the impression that’s one of the reasons, gift cards are now required to allow 3 years expiry and not 1 year.

Also, with the gift card being an EFTPOS card , ‘how and why that is different to other store cards?’- That’s a whole new issue to unpack and interrogate? How someone’s cash when put into those cards can simply ‘expire’, is beyond me. Who’s pocketing them if these businesses aren’t going through insolvency?

Thank you for your input @Bini.

If there is not a legislated law preventing the issuer keeping the value, or a precedent determined through the courts, it is likely legal.

Businesses have far greater resources than an individual consumer to influence outcomes. Often businesses support a collective association. These have greater combined resources to use to influence public perception and government behaviours.

I’m a member of Choice as it is only through consumer organisations such as Choice our voices are able to be heard. David and Goliath if one considers the financial capabilities of Choice vs nearly any big business or sector aligned business association.

I’m not a fan of gift cards and their cousins having been burnt once for a small amount. Back when they expired within 6/12 months and I lived 1,000km from where I might use it. I don’t think there are any conditions or a morally acceptable excuse for an issuer to keep the unused value. I can’t see how anyone could justify the response of Melbourne Central/GPT Group and GIVV. To a consumer it’s one more broken promise that we should not have to accept.

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