Did you get a gift card for a getaway at Christmas? Read the conditions carefully, because often they are only partially exchangeable or valid.

From a day at the sauna or a dinner for two to a slip course, balloon flight or kite surfing; There are all kinds of trips that you can give or receive as a Christmas gift. There are around 250 gift card issuers in the Netherlands, three of which focus exclusively on outings.

Booking a hotel yourself cheaper than with a gift voucher

Most Dutch people are happy when they receive such an outing as a gift. But the experience gift also causes irritation. Last year around the festive season, the Consumers' Association received 2,500 negative responses about gift cards. The complaints concerned, among other things, the limited number of redemption points, the validity period and the value of the voucher.

One of the respondents says: "The Hotel voucher was only accepted on days when low prices applied. Often these prices were lower than the value stated on the voucher." Another consumer says: "With the voucher we could only choose a fixed menu at the restaurant. If we wanted à la carte, then the voucher was only worth half."

Price of an outing difficult to determine

Martin de Wilde, chairman of the Dutch Association of Gift Cards Netherlands, nuances the complaints: "The number of annoyances is disproportionate to the 40 million gift cards sold annually in the Netherlands."

He explains that the price and period of validity of an experience voucher are more difficult to determine than that of a voucher with a monetary value, such as the Book voucher. "Suppose you issue a gift card for a balloon flight that is valid for two years. It is difficult to make a fixed price agreement with a balloonist for two years. Next year the gas can be more expensive, so the balloonist actually has to ask for more money. The prices of hotel stays also vary enormously throughout the year. "

No law to extend validity yet

More than a year ago, MP Joba van den Berg (CDA) submitted a motion to increase the minimum legal validity of gift cards to two years. That motion was passed, but there are no new laws yet.

Many experience gift cards, such as those from GiftForYou and Bongo, are therefore still valid for one year now. The customer service of GiftForYou does say that a number of vouchers have been valid for two years, and that others are still looking for a solution. Currently, the validity of the voucher can already be extended by one year, but that will cost you 5 euros.

Redeem gift card for money

If you are not happy with the gift card, or have it sold by mistake, you can still exchange it. That is possible at the publisher of the voucher itself, but also at websites such as Wissel.nl. You will then receive a different gift voucher or money in return.

"There will always be people who forget to issue such a voucher, and that causes annoyances," says De Wilde. According to the Consumers' Association, one in ten people has an expired gift voucher at home. "But the sale of gift cards has increased last year and we expect another increase this year. It is a wonderful gift to give."

Tips for spending a gift card

  • Find out how many places in the area the card can be spent on
  • Gift cards with a quality mark from Stichting Keurmerk Gift Cards are guaranteed to be valid for at least two years
  • Use cards that can only be exchanged for one chain as quickly as possible to prevent loss of credit in the event of bankruptcy
  • If the voucher has expired, you can call the seller. Sometimes they extend the validity out of courtesy