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Can I use gift cards at companies in administration like Arcadia’s Top Shop?

Can I use gift cards at companies in administration like Arcadia’s Top Shop?
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With many high street stores failing or in trouble, will gift cards still be accepted? The Arcadia group has gone into administration, with the fate of Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton hanging in the balance.

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It looks increasingly unlikely that Debenhams will survive, now facing liquidation as they begin shifting stock in a massive clearance sale.

Gift cards and administration: the rules

Once a company has gone into administration, it’s up to the administrators to decide on the best course of action. This means that the retailer may be instructed to reject gift cards as payment. However, this may only be temporary, so don’t throw your gift card in the bin. Keep checking in with the store for the latest information. 

Creditors can’t take legal action against the company during the period of administration. If and when the company goes into liquidation, you can register a claim with the liquidators. You may be lucky and get some, if not all, of your money back. Bear in mind that more substantial creditors will be at the front of the queue.

It’s clear that a gift card holder is not guaranteed the face value once a retailer is in serious trouble. If a voucher is worth £100 or more, and was purchased using a credit card, there’s a chance the credit card holder may be able to claim from their credit card company. 

Arcadia gift cards

As soon as Arcadia went into administration, there was a panic as the group appeared to be blocking gift cards online. However, Arcadia now plans to honour them, while securing a little more revenue.

Arcadia will accept gift cards for no more than 50% of a purchase, in store or online. For instance, shoppers with a Top Shop voucher worth £30 will have to spend £60. Only £15 of the card’s value will count towards a £30 price tag.

Unsurprisingly, many shoppers are not happy about the requirement to spend more money in order to redeem the full amount gifted.

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With 13,000 jobs at risk, it is hoped that potential buyers will step in to save the company. In such uncertain times it could be a gamble to hold onto an Arcadia gift card. It might be best to accept the 50% arrangement as soon as possible.


A department store with a long history, Debenhams has been limping along, wounded, for quite some time. It seems that there are no more options and Debenhams is expected to close by the spring. 

Although Debenhams is no longer selling gift cards, the company is still accepting them as payment both online and in store, where stores are open.

Customers who are able to shop in person may feel more secure exchanging a voucher for goods in hand at the earliest opportunity, rather than waiting for a delivery after paying online. 

Risk-free gift cards

No single high street retailer is completely safe from failure. In recent years, we have seen many household names stumble. If you have already bought a specific gift card for someone, urge them to use it without delay.

In addition to misplacing a card or letting it go out of date, online glitches can also cause problems. The Currys PC World website wiped hundreds of pounds from customers’ gift cards following a Black Friday technical fiasco. They are still dealing with the complaints.

If you’re looking for risk-free options, here are a few tips you should consider: 

  • Only buy or request gift cards that cover multiple companies and retailers.
  • Buy Amazon gift cards. Amazon has done rather well out of the pandemic, so you can feel confident with the company’s vouchers this year.
  • Support local businesses and jobs with local gift cards which cover several outlets in your area.

Santa’s advice

If you want to give and receive presents in monetary form for Christmas 2020, the most well-received Yuletide ‘voucher’ could be a festive bank transfer.

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