Americans Left Nearly $3 Billion on Unspent Gift Cards Last Year

Americans Left Nearly $3 Billion on Unspent Gift Cards Last Year

January 6, 2020         Written By Lynn Oldshue

Gift cards are a popular present in America, accounting for 55% of the average gifting budget. However, research shows that up to $3 billion remains unredeemed every year.

Consumers spent $98.6 billion on gift cards in 2019, and 1% to 3% of gift cards are not fully used. This means retailers are getting paid for up to $2.95 billion worth of gift cards that consumers aren’t cashing in on.

What’s stopping consumers from spending their gift cards? In many cases, a consumer receives a gift card to a retailer they do not shop with or do not have access to. In other cases, a small amount of money is left on the card, so small that it may be forgotten. The card may get lost or discarded after that, even though funds are still in the account.

Despite the convenience and popularity of gift cards during the holidays, most Americans prefer other gift alternatives. Only 22% of Americans choose gift cards and cash as a preferred gift option. Others would rather receive a specific gift directly targeted to their interests.

If you have a gift card you cannot use or do not want anymore, do not throw it away. There are many things you can do with used gift cards. Consider donating the card to a local shelter or selling the card to a gift card buyer. If you’re worried about the card taking space in your wallet, you could add the gift card to Apple Pay or Google Pay. The retailer has already been paid for the card. You might as well get something out of the transaction.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of January 6, 2020. For up-to-date information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website. Many of the offers on this article are from our affiliate partners, and may be compensated if you take action with any of our affiliate partners.


About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue
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