An Unwanted Gift Card Can Easily Keep On Giving
Billions of dollars' worth of gift cards go unspent every year, but it's easy to use those unwanted cards to one's advantage. NY1's Money Matters reporter Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
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Good things come in small packages, which might explain the popularity of gift cards. Each year, the pocket-sized presents pack a big economic punch.
"There are $90 billion in sales a year in gift cards. That is a huge number," says CardCash.com Vice President of Research Liz Luke.
According to the National Retail Federation, gift cards have been the number one requested item for the past five years. This year, roughly 58 percent of consumers said they would like to receive one, and eight out of 10 shoppers plan to give them.
Still, Angela Self, the co-founder of SmartCookies.com, says they are not necessarily "one size fits all."
"A recent survey by InStyle found that 82 percent of people use their gift cards, so that's a good chunk of people who aren't actually using their gift card," says Self.
What can one do with leftover or unwanted gift cards? For one thing, before shoppers hit the stores, Self recommends they take stock of what's in their wallet.
"I think that's actually the first place you should go when you're looking at spending any money over the holidays, is to look at the gifts cards in your wallet to see what you can use to put towards your purchases, before you spend any money," says Self.
Gift cards that can't be used can always be sold. There are a number of websites that purchase unwanted gift cards, often for a percentage of what that card is worth.
"If you have a $100 card and we're giving you 80 percent, you're walking away with $80, as opposed to keeping a card that you otherwise have no use for," says Luke.
The sites then turn around and sell the cards, again at a discount. After all, if someone pays $87 for a $100 gift card, the recipient will not know the difference.
"They're going to think you spent $100 at Sears. They're not going to be any wiser. Only you'll know," says Luke.
Finally, one can always cut out the middle man. Four out of 10 Americans recently admitted they have re-gifted an item and Self says gift cards are the perfect candidate.
"It is absolutely okay to re-gift a gift card. It's a great idea, actually," Self says. "If you know you're not going to use it, pass it on to somebody who you know will really take advantage of it and put it to good use."