Americans to Spend Nearly $30 Billion on Gift Cards This Holiday Season
In the upcoming holiday season, Americans are projected to spend a staggering $30 billion on gift cards, with restaurant gift cards emerging as the most sought-after choice. However, amidst this bustling gift card frenzy, it is disheartening to note that a significant portion of these cards ends up forgotten or unused, accumulating tens of billions of dollars in unclaimed value.
Fortunately, federal laws offer some level of protection to consumers. According to these laws, gift cards cannot expire for a period of five years. Furthermore, several state laws extend this protection with an even longer expiration period. While these regulations safeguard the expiration date, it is still advisable for recipients to utilize their gift cards promptly. Waiting too long may result in inactivity fees, the erosion of value due to inflation, or even the unfortunate scenario of the retail establishment closing its doors forever.
To encourage consumers to make use of their gift cards, National Use Your Gift Card Day has been designated for January 20, 2024. This initiative aims to remind individuals to activate their cards and embrace the joy of experiencing something they truly desire.
Alternatively, if one finds themselves in possession of a gift card that holds no appeal, there are platforms available to resell them. Websites such as CardCash or Raise facilitate the sale of unwanted gift cards, offering sellers approximately 70 to 80 cents per dollar of the card’s original value.
Interestingly, the process of gift cards going unused has implications for retailers as well. In cases where cards are left unredeemed, retailers must account for the possibility of future redemptions. This phenomenon, termed breakage or unused gift card liability, can become a significant driver of profit for certain companies.
In 19 states across the nation, retailers are obligated to collaborate with state unclaimed property programs. This collaboration ensures that unspent gift card funds are eventually returned to consumers. To aid in the search for unclaimed property, including cash from forgotten gift cards, a website named MissingMoney.com has been established. Jointly operated by state unclaimed property offices, this platform enables individuals to reclaim their forgotten assets.
As the holiday season approaches, it is important for consumers to remain informed about the potential pitfalls and opportunities linked to gift cards. By staying proactive, Americans can maximize the value of their gift cards and experience the true essence of the season’s gifting spirit.
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