How many do you have in your wallet or purse right this second? In your junk drawer or glove compartment? How many have you forgotten you have or never used and had to throw away? Too many, would be my guess.
Each year in the U.S. we buy an estimated $100 billion of gift cards for our friends and family around the holidays and almost $3 billion goes unredeemed. That’s $3 billion worth of gifts and experiences left on the table. Don’t come up empty-handed this year.
Each year in the U.S. we buy an estimated $100 billion of gift cards for our friends and family around the holidays and almost $3 billion goes unredeemed.
January 20 is National Use Your Gift Card Day – it was conceived as a reminder to indulge ourselves a little in something fun or to take a little time out of our busy lives for ourselves to just enjoy a gift as it was intended. After all, those cards were given to us with the hope that we would use them to make our life a little brighter in some way.
Here’s a few steps to help those thoughtful gifts fulfill their destinies:
- Gather them all together. Check your pockets, wallets, purses, junk drawers, vehicles, piggy banks, etc.
- Check each and every one for its expiration date and amount. (Yes, you will have to call the number on the back of the card if you do not remember the remaining balance. Make sure to mark the card when you get the information or you will have to make the call again.)
- For an experience card (from a restaurant, salon, etc.), plan a day to use it. Open up your calendar, choose a date night and a corresponding card, then stick to the plan. Someone wanted you to enjoy that experience!
- For cards with a monetary value, figure out something that retailer has that you might want and go for it. Don’t be afraid to be selfish. It’s your gift card, so use it as you desire.
- Unwanted gift cards can often be sold for monetary value, cashed out (in rare circumstances), used to purchase an item for a friend or loved one, or donated to a charity or person in need.
Tips for gift card use:
- Plan to spend more than the card’s value (if only a penny) so that no balance remains. It’s nice to be able to hand the card back to the cashier or cut it in half and discard. Mission accomplished!
- Check for deals to maximize your purchasing power.
- Redeem the card for something you would typically feel guilty about purchasing.
Each gift card represents money owed. You wouldn’t give up $50 in cash if it was coming to you, so why let it go to waste in a piece of plastic? Happy hunting!