The Federal Trade Commission issued a consumer alert last week on gift cards, warning consumers to understand the terms before buying one.
Consumers have complained oft poorly disclosed expiration dates and high fees that erode a card's value. Members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce had asked the FTC to look into gift cards late last year.
Under a Maryland law taking effect July 1, gift cards sold by individual retailers cannot expire or charge service fees within four years of purchase. Bank cards, which can be used anywhere debit or credit cards are accepted, must disclose expiration dates and fees on the card.