RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Americans spent an estimated $200 billion on gift cards in 2021, but a big chunk of that money goes to waste.
Now, there’s now a nationwide effort to get people to redeem those unused gift cards in a timely fashion.
It’s called National Use Your Gift Card Day and happens on Jan. 14.
Use Your Gift Card Day is good for consumers because we let billions in gift card money go unused every year.
Thurman Grove hasn’t spent his gift cards yet and said it takes him time to do that.
“It depends on how long I procrastinate,” he said.
Raleigh resident Sue Hennigan has several unused gift cards with “at least $100 on them,” which have yet to be spent.
In fact, a Bankrate study says the average person is sitting on $116 in unspent gift cards and it adds up when you look at the amount of money that’s sitting idle.
“$15 billion goes annually into unspent gift cards,” said Tracey Tilson who founded Use Your Gift Card Day.
That’s why three years ago she came up with the idea of creating a national gift card spending day, coming just about a month after the Christmas holidays.
“If you haven’t used them in the first couple of weeks, we tend to put them in places where we say, ‘I’ll remember to use them down the road,'” she said “That’s how we end up with piles of unused cards.”
A federal rule called the C.A.R.D. Act says you have at least five years to use up the balance.
Be aware, some gift cards have inactivity fees, which typically kick in after 12 months, so it’s best to use your gift cards as soon as possible or think about donating them.
“There’s a lot of people, places and things that could be helped by gift cards–so keep that in mind, “said Tilson.
You can also sell your unused gift cards. There are plenty of websites that will offer cash for them.
“That’s another solution—absolutely,” said Tilson. “Go online, Google and find the one that works for you.”
If you are thinking of selling your gift cards, test it out by just selling just one at first to make sure you like the process and receive payment in a timely fashion.
Just how many of us have unspent gift cards? Bankrate says 73 percent of us hold on to cards without ever spending them.
As an added incentive, a lot of retailers are offering special deals for gift card users tomorrow on National Use Your Gift Card Day – so use it before you lose it.