Here’s why you should use your holiday gift cards as soon as possible

Gift cards for many stores and services
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If you are like many families, you probably have a fresh stack of gift cards from the holiday season.

But what’s the chance you’ll actually use all those shiny new gift cards?

John Holland already suspects that some of his will never get used.

“I’ve still got some in my wallet from last year,” he said.

Joanne Morissey says hers sometime go missing.

“With kids … it sometimes does not get used,” she said.

Half of us holding unused gift cards

A recent study by CreditCards.com found that nearly half of adults, 47 percent, have at least one unused gift card or voucher in their home.

It is usually laying around in a junk drawer, at the bottom of a bag or backpack or in the glove compartment of their car.

The average amount of unused cards, the survey found, is $175 per person, or $21 billion nationwide.

Analyst Ted Rossman of CreditCards.com says: “It’s not going to get more valuable over time. Inflation is eating away at the value. Fees may be eating away at the value.”

In addition, Rossman says some companies charge monthly inactivity fees if a gift card is inactive for more than a year.

Plus, you risk a gift card expiring or a company going out of business.

Things you can do

So what should you do? Rossman suggests three things:

1. Use it. He says come up with a plan to use the card soon.

2. Re-gift it. Yes, there is nothing embarrassing about re-gifting.

If you’ve already used part of the card, “you can actually typically reload these to a more socially acceptable amount, and then you give your friend or relative a $25 gift card or a $50 gift card,” he said.

3. Sell it. Rossman suggests selling gift cards on reputable sites such as:

Realize that you won’t get the full value of the card, perhaps just 80 to 90 percent.

But, if you go that route, at least you’ll get some cash back, and that way you don’t waste your money.

About the Author

John Matarese

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