California Civil Code Section 1749.5 makes it illegal to sell a gift certificate that contains an expiration date. Any gift certificate sold after Jan. 1, 1997 is redeemable in cash for its cash value, or subject to replacement with a new gift certificate at no cost to the purchaser or holder, and any gift certificate with a cash value of $10 or less is redeemable in cash for its cash value. On a related note, did you know that the first gift card using a payments infrastructure was introduced by Blockbuster Entertainment in the fall of 1994 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida? Blockbuster gift cards replaced gift certificates that were being counterfeited with recently introduced color copiers and color printers. This was later followed by a card by Neiman Marcus, and the Mobil gas card which initially offered prepaid phone value provided by MCI. Continue reading for more useful tips.