Billions of dollars in gift cards expected to go unused, experts say

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Experts say most gift cards are used within a few months of when they were received, but billions of dollars worth of gift cards end up collecting dust each year.


According to the National Retail Federation, Americans were expected to spend nearly $30-billion on gift cards this holiday season.

Restaurant cards are the most popular, making up approximately one-third of those sales.

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The majority of gift cards are redeemed, but billions of dollars in cards end up being forgotten or unused.

Earlier this year, consumer finance company Bankrate found that nearly half of U.S. adults had at least one unspent gift card or voucher.

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The average value was $187 per person for a total of approximately $23-billion dollars left on the table.

There are some protections in place to keep those gifts from expiring.

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Under a federal law that took effect in 2010, a gift card can’t expire for five years from the time it was purchased, or from the last time someone added money to it. Some state laws require an even longer period.

There are also websites available for people who have received a gift card they don’t think they’ll ever use. However, the amount redeemed will likely be smaller than the value of the card itself.

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