It’s Time to Check Your Gift Cards
According to a new study by Bankrate , 73% of US adults have unused gift cards that they did not redeem in the last year, leaving about $ 116 left on average. The problem with gift cards is that if you don’t spend them in the first year, they tend to go unspent because you forget about them over time or the remainder is eaten up by inaction fees. If you don’t like the idea of leaving money on the table, an annual gift card audit will ensure that you get rid of unused cards once and for all.
Why you should always use gift cards right away
While there are federal safeguards that prevent gift cards from expiring for five years after they are purchased, companies may still charge a “no action fee” in some states if the card is not used for a year. These fees usually range from $ 2 to $ 5 per month, and they may be charged on a monthly basis until your gift card balance is depleted.
Moreover, there is the question of our habits winning over us: according to The Hustle , 70% of all gift cards are redeemed within six months after purchase, but after a year the redemption percentage remains unchanged at 80%, with the likelihood of cards being redeemed from decreasing over time. As soon as cards are no longer in the spotlight, we all just go back to paying in cash or on credit.
So, let’s audit the gift card
If you’re serious about making sure your gift cards don’t go to waste, you need a real plan that includes the following steps:
- Find all your gift cards wherever they hide – in your wallet, purse, desk drawer – and collect them in one place.
- Check each expiration date.
- Verify the balance of each gift card using the website or phone number on the back of the card. Write this number down on the front of your Sharpie card.
- Throw away any cards with zero balance so that they don’t fall back on good ones.
- Set a calendar reminder at the end of the week or month to serve as a deadline for spending your cards, and make it an annual reminder so you know to do the same after 12 months.
The final step is to redeem cards with the remaining value – but this is easier said than done, especially if you have a low value card for a retailer you don’t frequent. With this in mind, consider the following options:
- Low Cost Cards Reloading : If you have a stack of cards with only a few dollars in between, consider reloading them to $ 10 or $ 50 and giving them away as a gift.
- Sell your cards: there are legitimate gift card resellers who will take your cards out of your hands, albeit for a small fraction of their value – their share can range from 7% to 53% of the total value of the card (depending on the demand for cards from the given seller). This is a good option if you are unable to use the card and just want some cash. This Lifehacker post will walk you through the steps.