Have you ever discovered a long lost gift certificate, one that had been buried in a drawer or at the bottom of a "to-do" pile of paperwork? Did you get excited about the prospect of cashing it in only to discover that it had expired? Don't toss the gift certificate away quite yet because you still may be able to use it. In New Hampshire, a gift certificate of less than $250 value cannot have an expiration date.
If the business tries to tell you that you cannot use your gift certificate (that is worth less than $250) because it has expired, politely tell them that such expiration dates are illegal in New Hampshire. The business should be willing to oblige you since most businesses care about their community images. If the business won't accept your "old" gift certificate, you can take the business to Small Claims Court. By showing the court that the business violated the law by putting an expiration date on the gift certificate with a value of less than $250, you may be entitled to your actual damages or $1000, whichever is more.
Gift certificates of $250 or more expire when they become abandoned property, currently after 5 years. If this type of large value gift certificate goes unused for more than 5 years, the business is required to turn that money over to the State as "abandoned property." The Abandoned Property Division of the NH Treasury Department lists the names of anyone with abandoned property on its Internet site, and in occasional newspaper ads. Anyone whose name appears on the list can contact the Abandoned Property Division to have his or her money returned (as a check, not as a gift certificate). You can call the Abandoned Property Division at 1-800-791-0920 (toll-free) or 603-271-2619, or access the abandoned property list through the New Hampshire homepage.
Note: This law does not apply to season passes or non-refundable coupons. This law does not apply to gift certificates:
Portable Document Format (.pdf). Visit nh.gov for a list of free .pdf readers for a variety of operating systems.
New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301