Americans carry billions of dollars in unused gift cards
American consumers have $21 billion in unused gift cards, but they are in no hurry to use the money.
A new Bankrate study shows that nearly half (47%) of US adults say they have at least one gift card, coupon, or store credit on hand.
That averages out to $175 per person — up 51% from $116 in the previous year — or $21 billion in unused gift card gain overall.
The idea that every American adult leaves $175 on the table is a scratch for money experts.
“With inflation at a 40-year high, everyone is looking for ways to save money,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.
“Playing unused gift cards is an easy way to unlock some hidden value. So clean out your wallet, purse, junk drawer, and glove compartment—anywhere you might be hiding unused gift cards. Make a plan to use them before it’s too late.”
Young people are more likely to have unused gift cards/vouchers/store credits, with millennials (ages 26-41) holding the largest average value.
In particular, it is the low-income earners who leave money on the table.
The study noted that some “41% of those with annual household incomes of less than $50,000 had an unused gift card/voucher/store credit.” “The average value of this set is $128.”
Master the Gift Card Experience
The use of the card is unique to individuals, although there are some commonalities.
It depends on the shopper and the occasion,” said Shelley Hunter, Consumer Gift Cards Expert at GiftCards.com.
“While some people may forget to use their gift cards, others may wait to use them strategically. Research by Blackhawk Network has found that shoppers stick to gift cards if they don’t find the right item to justify spending, if they’re saving up for a bigger purchase, or handing out their spending in an effort to improve the budget.”
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One factor that doesn’t get much attention is that most gift cards are not used as gifts at all.
“According to Blackhawk, 58% of consumers buy gift cards for self-use,” Hunter noted. People intentionally buy gift cards because they see it as a faster, easier, and safer way to pay for things, to take advantage of reward-based promotions or point offers, or to use them as cash for digital purchases.”
“Just because people have unused gift cards doesn’t mean they don’t have carefully planned intentions for them,” Hunter added.
Tips for making the most of gift cards
Hunter offers these tips on making the most of your gift cards.
• Think about immediate needs. Instead of wasting gift cards on something you don’t want or need, or selling for less than face value, consider using them to invest in something you won’t want to buy later (for example, household items, school supplies) or home essentials (such as groceries).
“This will save your other money for a rainy day,” Hunter said. “The Federal Reserve recently reported that Americans are accumulating credit card debt and turning to credit card rewards to mitigate inflation and other economic challenges.”
“Thus, gift cards are a great way to take advantage of existing funds and avoid taking on debt,” she said.
• Gift Card Purchases Layer with Deals and Promotions. Nearly half (46%) of respondents to a recent Blackhawk survey buy more products on sale, 44% buy less expensive generic brands or products, and 40% buy more products on a promotion (eg buy one, get one). on one), and 33% use more coupons when shopping.
“Gift cards can help shoppers get more value for their money, and they can help people afford the brands they owe but have been holding back,” Hunter told TheStreet.
• Give the gift that shows you care. If you don’t really use a gift card or store credit, use it to buy items for people in need.
Schools, sports teams, and nonprofits regularly need clothing, school supplies, batteries, and food, among other items. You can also give usable gift cards for fundraising efforts to help some great causes,” Hunter added.