Even though there are many other popular gift items that are purchased each year, gift cards are always found towards the top of that list.
One report confirms that more than $100 billion is spent on gift cards each year. GiftCards.com reports that the average consumer spends $213 each year on this type of product alone.
Not even that figure has the same shock value as the amount of money invested in gift cards that is never actually used.
A study conducted earlier this year confirmed that a substantial amount of money remains invested in unused gift cards — more than $44 billion, to be more exact.
Senior analyst John Kiernan commented on this relatively unknown trend in an interview with the New York Post, estimating that over $44 billion has accumulated in unused gift card amounts for the past 6 years.
“People are letting cash slip away that they could be using.”
Bill Hardekopf, the CEO of LowCards, stated that this figure does not surprise him at all, especially when you focus on exactly what consumers do shortly after they receive gift cards.
“People get these cards and often put them away in a drawer and then forget about them. And that’s too bad.”
From a business perspective, unclaimed gift cards might seem like a win-win situation for the companies that sold them. On the contrary, the exact opposite is the case.
Gift card sales do not usually count as revenue for most retailers until those cards are used. This means that tens of billions of dollars within the retail industry are basically being held hostage by consumers that likely forgot or misplaced the cards.
That explains why so many major corporations have become a little more “creative” when it comes to options that they offer to gift card holders.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 24, 2014
Fortunately, consumers now have more options available to them that allow them to take full advantage of these portable presents.
For instance, there are numerous gift-card exchanges that offer cash payments in exchange for unused cards. In most cases, consumers can average between 80 to 85 cents on the dollar for a gift card from a popular vendor.
Based on those figures, one could walk away from selling a $200 gift card with between $160 and $170 in cash to spend however they see fit.
To raise that exchange amount even higher, selling gift cards through online auction websites — like eBay — present another solid opportunity to make some money off those unused pieces of plastic.
You might not see a need (or want) to use your gift cards for a future shopping spree. But, you should at least consider selling them to someone that does.
A chipotle gift card is the greatest gift to receive.
— Casey (@FaZeSwan) December 25, 2014
When you get that itunes gift card from ya aunt you turn into the greatest actor in the world, you turn in a Oscar worthy performance.
— GO CHARGERS (@BasedChasen) December 25, 2014
I don’t need a new car I got a Krispy Kreme gift card.
— Dominic DeAngelis (@DOMtheB0MB) December 25, 2014
Otherwise, that $44 billion accumulation from unused gift cards will only continue to grow with each passing year.