When a retailer files for bankruptcy protection, that typically means that it will stop accepting gift cards, which is very bad news if you happen to hold one. If customers of The Limited didn’t spend their gift cards before the chain shut down its retail stores and its website, they lose the value of their cards.
What typically happens in a retail bankruptcy is that the company will secure permission from the bankruptcy court to accept gift cards for at least 30 days after the filing. Shoppers can use their cards up at liquidation sales or on the company’s website.
While a retailer or restaurant might accept pre-bankruptcy gift cards after reorganization or under new ownership, it isn’t required to. RadioShack, for example, only allowed customers to cash in their gift cards for up to a year after the bankruptcy filing after numerous state attorneys general, led by the AG in its home state of Texas,
Then there are chains like The Limited, which closed all of its stores and its e-commerce site, then filed for bankruptcy. That means you can’t spend those gift cards anywhere, leaving you with a shiny flat piece of plastic.
While the company may offer gift card holders direct refunds in the future, for now the only path to get your money back is to submit a claim as a debtor in the bankruptcy proceedings. Yes, you have the right to do this as a gift card holder.
As a smaller, unsecured creditor you’ll be at the end of the line, but you file a claim in the same way as big lenders: follow the claim form instructions and mail it in. You may be in for a long wait and collect only pennies, but that’s better than not being able to do anything with your gift card, right?