When you activate or re-load a gift card, the clock starts ticking. Thanks to 2009′s CARD Act, you have at least five years to spend a gift card after that point. Customers aren’t entitled to a full refund in the event that a company goes out of business. The smaller a company is, the better the odds are that they will disappear: about half of all small businesses close in their first five years.
$1 billion in gift cards go unredeemed [Marketwatch]