Do Macy's Gift Cards Degrade in Value Over Time?

I didn’t see anything immediately helpful at the website, so I thought some passerby here might easily be able to supply me with the info. I have heard that some gift cards, Macy’s included, “degrade” in value over time. As in, maybe once a month they take $20 off the card.

Is this true? And is it true of Macy’s? We asked a clerk at Macy’s a couple days ago, but we were not confident she understood our question due to a language barrier. (Did I spell “barrier” right? It looks strange for some reason…)


Depends on the state. In California, cards retain their value over time, for example.

What are the Terms and Conditions associated with redeeming a gift card?

Gift Cards are issued as a gift or in place of crediting value to a credit card or other proof of purchase return. This card may be used to purchase merchandise and in-store services at any Macy’s store or on line at and macys, only. Additional returns may be applied to this card. See below for redemption locations. It may not be redeemed for cash or applied as payment or credit to your credit card account. When you make a purchase with your Gift Card, your receipt will show your remaining balance and expiration date*. Please safeguard your Gift Card. The bearer is responsible for its loss or theft. If your gift card is lost or stolen, and you have proof of purchase, we will issue you a replacement for the balance shown on our records.

Except as noted below, this card expires 2 years from date of last value added*. To check the expiration date or balance of your Gift Card, call 1-800-511-2752 or see a Sales Associate. Your Gift Card is required for all inquiries.

*Cards sent to purchasers in the following states do not expire: California, Connecticut, Louisianna, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

I have mainly lived in Louisiana and Massachusetts where they never expire so I have never experienced one doing anything but holding its value. However, I have worked on systems for national retailers and I find it hard to believe that a retailer could ever just deduct money off when they felt like it regardless of what they put in the fine print. They are generally treated the same as cash and I don’t think that any of them would be stupid enough to deduct a few bucks because of the PR backlash.

The reason that they are allowed to expire in most states isn’t because they want free money. That is always nice but the real reason is keeping the records and systems in place for long periods of time to account for all previous forms of gift certificates and cards becomes onerous.

I got a $15 Dillard’s gift certificate for my high school graduation. I got around to using it about 8 years later. They didn’t bat an eye.

While all the above is correct, the cards are certainly susceptible to inflation; i.e., in ten years your $100 gift card will almost certainly have less purchasing power than it does today. A recent news story about General Mills shutting down the Betty Crocker catalog made me reminisce about when I was a kid and cereal box tops only had one or two “Betty Crocker Points” coupons. The last time I looked, the coupons were for 10-20 points (I think) and I chuckled that the catalog had inflated prices but the coupons kept up a bit.




IIRC from my accounting class*, a problem for retailers with unused gift cards is that they cannot be considered profit because the retailer is not allowed to assume what products the person will buy. Therefore, they get cash (not profit) and a liability.

At some point, they know a certain number of cards are lost, but the only acceptable way of accounting for the fact that they will never be cashed in is to discount them over time.

*based on only one financial accounting class. A real accountant may shed more light.