Why that gift card you bought won't get used

Posted at 8:57 AM, Dec 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-23 10:21:53-05

The most popular gift of the holiday season often turns out to be a wasted gift.

We're talking gift cards: now a $30 billion business.

Unfortunately, the National Retail Federation estimates that as many as one-third of those cards never get used.

So Easy...But....

The easiest gift for Aunt Sophie? Walk into the supermarket, grab a gift card from that big rack, and send it with love.

But a new report byDailyFinance.com says that may be the last that card is ever seen.

The report says common gift card downsides include:

  •  It's a store that the recipient rarely shops at (Claire's for a 30 year old? Are you sure?)
  •  It's a store that is too far away for the recipient to easily visit. (Are you positive they live near Pottery Barn?)
  •  Inactivity fees eat away at the card's value after a year.
  •  The recipient loses the card.
  •  The recipient forgets they have the card, after tucking it away in a desk or dresser drawer.

The Biggest Risk

And from the doesn't that stink file, the biggest gift card downside: The store or restaurant goes out of business, before your recipient uses the card.

Your recipient will say" Doesn't that stink?"

A closed business means a worthless gift card.  There are no refunds when a restaurant shuts down.

Daily Finance says beware gift cards from businesses that are brand new or no longer very popular: The card may last longer than that business does. 

The Outback Steakhouse?  Probably OK.  That brand new burger joint?  Could be risky, as much as it is a nice idea to support small  local businesses.

So read the fine print, make sure the recipient can easily use it, so that it's not thrown away and so you don't waste your money.


Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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