The State of Michigan needs money and they've shortened the time frame for gift cards, among other items to be considered abandoned property. HB 6421 was signed into law by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm on October 6th, 2010 and is effective immediately.
Thankfully most gift cards are excluded. Per Section 15 (4):
"This act does not apply to a gift certificate as defined in section 3e of the Michigan consumer protection act, 1976 PA 331, MCL 445.903e, that is issued for retail goods or services by a person engaged in the retail sale of goods or services."
That's a really confusing way of saying store-issued gift cards (Best Buy, iTunes, Walmart, etc.) are excluded. See Section 3e for more detail on which types of gift cards are excluded by HB 6421.
However, bank-issued gift cards (Visa, American Express, etc.) are included and are now considered to be unclaimed property after 3 years of inactivity.
Abandoned Before Expired
While Michigan Gift Card Law does not cover bank-issued gift cards, recent Federal Gift Card Law prohibits such gift cards from expiring within 5 years. It's a bit odd the state has decided to consider a Visa Gift Card unclaimed before it can legally expire.
While it may not make much sense to us, at least the law makers of Michigan didn't stoop to New Jersey's level of desperation: New Jersey's recently changed unclaimed property law for gift cards to include both store-issued and bank-issued gift cards. It also shortened the time frame to just two years and is retroactive.