Gifting Gift Cards and What it Means to Consumers

From finding the perfect gift to finding that gift at a reasonable price, the holiday shopping season can be stressful. When taking care of your holiday shopping this season, it is easy to resort to giving out gift cards to friends and family members. Whether you are trying to find anything that your picky nephew will like or showing your friend that you’re thinking about them, gift cards are being bought all over the world this holiday season. The problem is that gift cards are not always being used at the same rate.

Since 2005, upwards of $41 billion dollars have been left unused on gift cards. While this number has been shrinking in recent years, a good sign for consumers, it is still a large percentage of money spent on holiday gifts being thrown away. This $41 billion includes fees and value lost due to expiration dates, as well as gift card recipients just not using their gift cards. This decrease in money lost in recent years is largely due to the CARD Act, which stated that most gift cards can’t expire until five years after the last load onto the card. This has allowed customers more time to use their gift cards, but also a greater chance that they’ll lose them in the process.

While this seems like an outrageous number of gift cards that go unused, 85% of gift card recipients are using their gift cards within the first 60 days after receiving them. If you notice that your gift card isn’t well received, explain to the recipient that there are now sites you can exchange unused gift cards for others that may be more of interest to them, such as Cardpool.com. This will help eliminate wasted money from gift cards not being used.

Gift cards may seem like the perfect gift when you don’t know what to get someone, but make sure your gift card is being used. Nobody wants to waste money, especially around the holidays. Look to make sure you are purchasing a gift card with no expiration date or hidden fees, for instance fees to inquire about your current balance. This will help keep you and your recipient out of the $41 billion of wasted gift card money.
About the Author: Mary is a guest contributor from MSU Business Analytics, a program focused on preparing students to lead businesses with new business strategies, data management skills and experiential project consulting.

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