Paycheck Chronicles

Five Ways To Not Waste Gift Cards


Gift cards are a popular and convenient gift, but there is always the possibility that they'll go unused.  Whether lost, stolen, or just forgotten, over $1 BILLION in gift cards were unredeemed in 2015.  If you receive gift cards during this holiday season, be sure to get their full value.

Track Them

Keep track of your gift cards.  Make a spreadsheet, or use a page in your planner, or whatever will work for you.  Note when you buy or receive a gift card.  Register the gift card, if that is an option, and write down the registration information.  Cross them out when they're redeemed.

Use Them In A Single Transaction

If at all possible, use the cards in a single transaction.   Have a few dollars on a card is a good way to get confused.  In addition, it can be hard to use smaller balances if you don't know the exact amount remaining.

Transfer Them To Something You'll Use

If you have generic gift cards, like Visa or American Express gift cards, turn them into credit at a retailer you use frequently. I like to put them on my Amazon account. I know they will be used and won't get misplaced or forgotten. You may have to use the gift card to buy the retailers gift card and then apply that to your account.

This is perfect for small amounts, such as rebates, or the leftover value on larger cards that weren't used in a single transaction.

Give Them A Home

Have a designated location for physical cards to live.  It doesn't matter where, as long as you can remember the spot. Once in a while, look through the pile to remind yourself of what you have.

Sell Them

If you are really never going to use the gift card, you can sell it.  You lose about 20% of the card's value, depending on how you sell it. Still, it's a better option than letting it take up space in your world.

It's sad (and wasteful) when gift cards aren't redeemed. Don't let this happen to your gift cards!

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