Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Got Any Unused Gift Cards?

If you're like me, just one day after this Christmas, you may have realized that you still have holiday gift cards left over from last year that you haven't used fully.

Holiday gift cards can be a sweet deal for retailers since, in some states, after the sale, recipients leave hundreds of redeemable dollars unclaimed and in the retailers' coffers.

Other states however, don't let retailers get off so easily.

In any case, use your gift cards! The money's been spent already. So, you may as well take advantage of it.

Check out the following, from today's Harvard Business Review Daily Stat:

DECEMBER 26, 2012
Americans Carrying Around Big Money in Unused Gift Cards

The typical American home holds an average of $300 in unredeemed gift cards, according to an estimate reported by Rocky B. Cummings and Joseph Carr in the Journal of State Taxation. These cards are often misplaced, accidentally thrown out, or only partially redeemed. Between 2005 and 2011, $41 billion in gift cards went unused, the authors say. But retailers don't always benefit: Many states require issuers to report unclaimed balances as abandoned property after a prescribed period of time.

Source: Holiday Gift Card Season is Upon Us—Has Your State Been Naughty or Nice?

UPDATE: Just had a brainwave. If you have unused gift cards, instead of letting them lapse, as they might do with some merchants or in some states, why not donate them to a local charity, like a food bank, homeless shelter, battered women's shelter, or a Boys and Girls Club? You won't miss the money and you could provide agencies with tight-budgets and big missions with the ability to purchase needed items!

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