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Americans Have $21 Billion in Unspent Gift Cards

Some people love them, some people hate them. Worse, a large number of us who receive them on special occasions are indifferent to them, or even forget about them entirely. Such is the sad fate of gift cards – millions of which go unused each year and have a collective value estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

Almost two-thirds of American consumers have at least one unspent gift card tucked away in a drawer, pocket, wallet, or purse. And at least half of those consumers lose a gift card before they use it, according to a new report from Credit Summit. The report said there is as much as $21 billion of unspent money tied up in unused and lost gift cards. Of those surveyed, a majority of respondents said their unredeemed cards were worth $200 or less.

Rebecca Stumpf, an editor with Credit Summit, said “Gift cards are extremely popular and almost everyone enjoys getting them. But many people leave them sitting in a drawer to redeem on a special occasion. Use them, don’t save them. If someone has given you a gift card, they want you to spend the money.”

So why aren’t we using up what people have taken the trouble to give us? According to Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst with CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com:

Inertia is a big factor. Sometimes the gift card is for a store that you don’t particularly like or it’s not convenient to go there. Still, ignoring the gift of free money is unwise. They’re not going to get more valuable over time; it’s the exact opposite, as inflation eats away at the value. And the longer you hold onto these unused gift cards, the more likely you are to lose them or forget about them or have the store go out of business.

Possible Preaching Angle:

In the same way, the gifts of God (salvation, spiritual gifts, talents, the Bible) often remain unused, unopened by faith, and neglected by so many people.


Parija Kavilanz, “Americans have a collective $21 billion in unspent gift cards,” CNN (2-23-23)

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