EDITORIAL: A gift to the banks

Gift cards are wildly popular. They’re easy to send in the mail or stuff in a stocking.

Gift cards are wildly popular. They’re easy to send in the mail or stuff in a stocking. They show at least a semblance of thought was given to the recipient’s desires yet still empower that recipient to get something they truly want. But they can come with a downside, that has yet to be addressed by Ottawa.

Canadians spend about $6 billion a year on gift cards. A survey last year by Maritz Research suggested almost half of Canadians were hoping to find a gift card under their Christmas tree.

They’re also popular with retailers. Statistics Canada says more than 80 per cent of large Canadian retailers offer gift cards.

The credit card gift card issued by a number of banks seems like the perfect gift solution.

But beware the fine print.

There’s lots of it – most of which works against the consumer to devalue the worth of the card.

Gift cards issued by retailers are regulated by provincial consumer laws. In B.C., that means they can’t have expiry dates and consumers can’t be charged fees to acquire or maintain the cards – what you buy is what you get.

But bank credit card gift cards are regulated by Ottawa, which has yet to act to protect consumers against extra fees or expiry dates. Those fees can quickly chip away at the full value of the gift card, from a transaction fee to actually buy the card, to monthly maintenance fees, to charges to have the bank check the balance remaining on the card. If the card does expire, the bank will gladly issue a new one for a substantial fee, plus a cancellation fee equal to the balance still on the card.

It all adds up to make a credit card gift card seem more a gift to the banks than the recipient.

It’s time the federal government brings the rules for those cards in line with those that apply to retailer gift cards.

– Black Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Abbotsford Hospice Society holds community scavenger hunt

Road to Gratitude event takes place on Sunday, July 19 by the carload

New book celebrates people and events that shaped Abbotsford

Pre-sales launched for Abbotsford – A Diverse Tapestry, to be released in fall

Child falls down Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack, crews on scene

An 11-year-old boy fell over the falls about 25 to 30 feet and has suffered a head injury

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Four-vehicle collision snarls eastbound highway traffic in Fraser Valley

Collision west of Lickman Road on Highway 1 includes three vehicles plus motorcycle

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read