On the final day of the 2019 Legislative Session lawmakers passed a number of bills such as requiring businesses to cash-out gift cards when there's less than $5 on it.

If the Governor signs the bill into law, it would take effect January 1, 2020.


They're one of the most popular gifts to give during the holidays, according to the National Retail Federation, gift card sales across the nation reached nearly $30 billion in 2018.

Three out of five consumers bought them, but what happens when consumers are just about done using them?

"A lot of people just forget about it so that $3 goes unused, the consumer is never allowed to get the benefit of that card because they'll forget about it," Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Executive Director Stephen Levins said.

State lawmakers are trying to change that, a bill is working its way through the Capitol that would require businesses to cash out a consumers gift card once it has less than $5 remaining.

"We think that consumers deserve the right to get full value for the gift card," Levins said. 
Meanwhile, the Retail Merchants of Hawaii fears the measure could hurt local businesses.

"A lot of times people don't realize a gift card is a gift. It's not like you buy gift cards and use them for yourself a lot of times you buy it for other people," Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki said.

According to Yamaki, the burden should be placed on consumers.

"The consumer needs to take some responsibility to bring the gift cards with them when they come shopping," Yamaki said. 

In Honolulu, the Roger Dunn Golf shop is already on board with the proposal, it gives customers with gift cards money back once their cards are near empty.

The State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs says gift card money belongs to consumers and merchants shouldn't be allowed to keep it.
    By law -- unused funds are supposed to go to state's unclaimed property department but it only happens if consumers file claims.

"The most important point here is its not the merchant's money," Executive Director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Twelve states have already passed similar measures, according to lawmakers the idea of giving back dollars makes sense. 

"With things in Hawaii being so expensive, I know people can appreciate every penny we have goes a long way in making ends meet," Representative Angus McKelvey from the Committee on Economic Development and Business said.