Using Gift Vouchers - What are the rules?

Buying gifts for people is hard. Everyone hates getting presents they have no use for, and the hassle of swapping clothes that don't fit or appliances you already own is often more a chore than a blessing. But for some reason in our culture handing someone $50 cash is basically the equivalent of saying "I don't care enough about you to know what you want." (I personally have no problem with getting cash FYI).

Which is why gift vouchers have exploded in popularity over the last 10 years. Gift vouchers say "I care enough to make some effort" and "you can choose exactly what you want" at the same time.

But the execution of using a gift voucher or gift card has come up recently, with recent reports to Everything Geraldton that some local businesses not allowing the vouchers to be used multiple times.

Some businesses are more than happy to give change, in cash, when the full value of the voucher is not used, even though according to the Dept of Commerce they're not obligated to do this. However, there is the question as to whether you should be allowed to use your voucher more than once if you don't spend it all the first time.

One local shared their recent experience:

I had a $50 gift voucher to [a local establishment]. A friend and I went for lunch and our meals totalled $33.50. When paying I waited and eventually enquired as to getting my updated gift voucher. The answer I received was that they do not provide cash back for the difference. Fair enough. I explained I did not expect that, and that I only wanted the difference as an updated or new gift voucher. I was given a very condescending analogy along the lines of "if I went to jeans west with a $50 gift voucher and bought $30 jeans I would not be given $20 cash back". I reiterated that was not what I was requesting. The staff member then suggest she speak to the manager. She returned and said that the manager confirmed I have to forfeit the difference. As we all know, this is not how gift vouchers work. I said this to the staff member and received a very blunt "that's how we do things here" in reply. Frustrated that they were ripping me off I offered the remainder of the gift voucher to be used towards the customers behind me, which they did.

The following is from the Department of Commerce's website:


  • must clearly display the expiry date
  • can be used more than once
  • cannot be reloaded (in other words, the value cannot be increased or added to)
  • cannot be redeemed for cash unless there is a remaining amount that, in the reasonable opinion of the trader, cannot be conveniently used'


It pays to know your rights as a consumer.  The local office of the Department of Commerce can be contacted on  (08) 9920 9800.