Photo of Senator Miller.

State Senator

Patricia Billie Miller

Representing Darien and Stamford

Senator Pat Billie Miller Leads Passage of Bill Providing a Cash Refund for Remaining Gift Card Balances


Today, state Senator Pat Billie Miller (D-Stamford), Chair of the Banking Committee, led passage of Senate Bill 179, An Act Concerning Cash Refunds For The Balance Of A Gift Card. This bill requires merchants to provide a cash refund upon request for gift card balances under five dollars.

"This bill allows people to keep their money in their pocket and I am pleased to lead its passage in the state Senate,” said Sen. Miller. "Instead of having a gift card with a small balance sitting in your drawer, Connecticut residents will be able to redeem that remaining low balance and put it toward something else they may need.”

Under current law, accepting a gift card as payment must give the purchaser cash for the remaining balance on the card after the purchase if the balance is under $3, if the purchaser requests it and provides the proof of purchase or a gift receipt for the gift card. This bill increases the balance threshold from $3 to $5. It also eliminates the requirement to provide the proof of purchase or a gift receipt.

This bill has support from Connecticut Citizen Action Group and AARP, both submitting positive testimony in favor of the bill. AARP said consumer spending is responsible for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic output, and older adults are responsible for a disproportionate share of consumer spending. According to the AARP Longevity Economy Report, older adults contribute $8.3 trillion to the U.S. economy every year. It is critical to put policies in place that protect consumers and do not disadvantage them causing financial strain. Gift cards are financial products that have already been paid for - they are the equivalent of cash. When there is very little money left, consumers shouldn’t be required to buy something for potentially much more money in order to spend the small remaining balance.

The Connecticut Citizen Action Group said this is a basic issue of fairness. Consumers should not have to spend additional money to access the full value of a gift card. Increasing the cash out value to $5 from $3 is a small amount and the right thing to do for families, especially when they are already paid for.

In 2020, when Sen. Miller was a State Representative, she provided testimony in support of House Bill 5296, An Act Concerning Cash Refunds for the Balance of a Gift Card. Sen. Miller said gift cards have steadily grown in popularity among consumers and recipients alike. The combination of flexibility and convenience provided by a gift card allows recipients to receive the perfect gift, one they can select for themselves. Sen. Miller believes this bill will benefit the consumer and the retailer. Unfortunately, this bill did not go through the full legislative process because the legislature had to shift their focus due to the coronavirus pandemic.