Financial Resource Center

Money Management

Be Smart and Use Those Gift Cards

by Michelle M. Haas-Dosher, CCUFC / January 3rd, 2020

Almost 59% of people surveyed by the National Retail Federation requested a gift card for the 2019 holiday season, equaling an estimated $100 billion. In 2019, between $2 billion to $4 billion in gift cards will go unredeemed. If you got gift cards last year, make sure you don’t let them go unused:

  • Put all your gift cards in a single envelope or load them onto your phone. Note the dollar value so you know how much you have to spend.
  • Pick something that costs a bit more than the value of the card. That's so you don't leave a tiny balance on the card that goes unspent, especially if you're the kind of consumer who's going to tuck that card away and never look back at it. The trick here is to get something you need or want and to not go overboard by buying something you can't afford in the first place.
  • Sell your card if it's from a store you'll never visit.  Check out sites like Cardcash, Cardpool or Raise to get money for your unused cards. Expect to get slightly less than the full value of the card.
  • Consider selling it to a friend or relative. This is the best way to get the full value of the card.
  • See if you can redeem the card at a retailer's online store. Most cards allow you to enter the unique card code to redeem a gift card. You can get more mileage this way at post-holiday online sales, especially if there's a free shipping offer. 


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