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The Unused Balance on Gift Cards Is Astronomical

Jay Long
Jay Long

My favorite kind of gifts are the ones that are thoughtful and homemade. My second favorite kind of gifts are gift cards. I know I need to work on this because it’s awful, but I’m terrible about treating myself and buying things for me. Maybe it’s mom guilt, I don’t know. But what I know is that I generally use the gift card given to me to buy something for someone else. Is that as terrible as it seems in my head as I write these words?

I guess it doesn’t really matter if you use the gift card on yourself, or someone else, but it does matter that you use it. The reason? According to Market Watch, we spent more than $130 billion dollars on gift cards in 2015, and about a billion of those dollars weren’t ever used.

Think about that for a second. By leaving gift cards unused, we’ve basically just gifted companies a BILLION dollars. Free. It’s like we’re saying, “Here you go big companies that make more money in 6 months than I’ll see in my entire life- here’s more money to pad your already huge bank account.

If you have a gift card for a place that you’ll never, ever use, you might want to consider selling it or swapping it for a gift card to a place you regularly visit. Unfortunately, you won’t get the full face value of the gift card when you sell or swap, but it’s better than having nothing and better than letting it pad the wallets of those who really don’t need it.

[via Market Watch/Raise]

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