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$2 Billion In Gift Cards To Go Unused This Year & How You Can Cash In

GiftcardAn article estimating that $2 billion in gift card credit will go unused this year really caught our attention.  After doing a little digging we learned of an even more staggering number.  It turns out that since 2005 more than $41 billion in gift card credit has gone unused.  This is one that I absolutely don't understand.  Like most people I receive gift cards on occasion but I always use them.  A relative from California sent me an Amazon gift card for Christmas and I used it within twenty minutes of taking it out of the envelope.  I am not sure who these people are that receive gift cards and let them go unused, but it appears that they are out there in large number.

What Happens To Unused Gift Cards?

Unused gift cards are sometimes  subject to the same laws as abandoned bank accounts, unclaimed utility refunds, and other so called 'lost money.'  In state with these laws this money ends up in the state treasurers abandoned property account.  List of rules state by state for unused gift cards.  Here is a link to the new 2010 federal law governing gift cards.

How your Best Buy gift card ends up in New York’s bank account

From Wonkblog -

The Securities and Exchange Commission allows companies to take unused gift-card money as income once they can reasonably say the card won’t be redeemed, but there’s no set time limit. Best Buy, for example, sets that level at about two years. In fiscal 2011, the electronics company recorded $53 million in income from gift-card “breakage,” or cards that are unlikely ever to be redeemed, up from $43 million a year earlier.

The Host Of This Show Admits He does Not Use Most Gift Cards He Receives


How To Sell A Gift Card You Don't Want 

There are quite a large number of websites that provide a marketplace for buying and selling gift cards in online secondary markets.  One such site, Plastic Jungle, will pay up to 92% of the value of your card and deposit the money directly into your PayPal account.  The amount you will receive for your card is based on the overall demand for it from buyers on their site. 

Other major gift card resale sites:



Gift Card Castle

Card Pool

Buying Gift Cards In The Secondary Market Can Be A Really Great Deal

As the pool of gift cards continues to grow it appears that significant discounts can be found on these sites.

Current Discounts -

Olive Garden 9%

Lowe's 7%

Home Depot 9%

The Cheesecake Factory 11%

Aeropostle 14%

Kohl's 12%

Plastic Jungle offers free shipping and guarantees the value of the gift card (as do most resellers), so it really seems like a can't lose proposition.  The takeaway here is don't just sit on your unused gift cards.  You can cash them in for real money.  Also, these sites should be on everyone's list throughout the year as a way to really save some serious money at your favorite retail establishments.

Helping you make the most of God’s money!

James L. Paris
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