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Aug 11, 2009 06:55 AM

Gift certificate protocol

What if there's an unused balance -- of, say, $50 -- on a gift certificate? I've never used a gift certificate before and don't know what to expect. TIA

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  1. Individual restaurants policies will vary widely. Some will carry over balance 'til next time; some will give you cash back; others say "use it or lose it".

    It is always best to ask that specific restaurant what their policy is on using their gift cert prior to dining so there are no/fewer misunderstandings.

    1. Most restaurants will issue you a new gift certificate for any unused/remaining balance. If it is a gift card type/gift certificate, the balance will automatically be recorded in most cases.

      2 Replies
      1. re: fourunder

        Thank you both for your clear advice. I will call to find out what the restaurant's policy is.

        1. re: efdee

          Also, check your state's laws on unused portions on GCs. Some states require returning the rest of the money if under a certain percentage based on the original amount of the GC. But most establishments aren't aware of their state's laws, so make sure you have a copy of it if you think appropriate. I had this happen at Penzey's in Arlington, MA - they wouldn't give me $2.13 left on a GC that had been $25.00 total. MA state law requires that when 90% or more of a GC is used, the holder can ask for the remainder in cash - they wouldn't do this for me claiming it wasn't the law (although I knew it was) and I didn't have a printout with me from the MassGov site.

          Some info:

      2. Some places say that you cannot use the gift card towards the tip (I don't know why!) so I would bring some extra cash also.