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Gift cards gathering dust: $1.9 billion languishing on unused cards


Australians are risking losing billions of dollars on gift cards by not redeeming them, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,086 respondents revealed 2 in 5 (39%) have unused gift cards lying around worth $1.9 billion.

The research found those with gift cards have an average of $243 sitting in drawers untouched.

Graham Cooke, head of consumer research at Finder, said gift cards are a popular choice for presents but more than a third go unused.

"Gift cards are a practical gift if you're unsure of what someone will like or use.

"However, by not redeeming them, you're essentially giving that money back to the retailer and losing out on a great deal of savings."

The data shows 3 in 10 (29%) Aussies have been unable to redeem a gift card.

1 in 5 (22%) couldn't redeem their gift card as it had expired, 6% misplaced it and a further 2% were unable to cash in on their gift card as the company went out of business.

That's equivalent to 5.8 million people who have missed out on an opportunity to use their credit.

Cooke said having too many gift cards lying around unaccounted for is a recipe for disaster.

"Racking up gift cards can become a source of clutter as they're easy to lose track of.

"Up until recently, retailers could issue gift cards with an expiration date as short as 6 months. Thankfully, they must now allow you to use the card for a minimum of 3 years.

"It is illegal for retailers to issue cards with an expiry date shorter than this. If a retailer rejects your card within a 3-year period, lodge a complaint. If they still won't honour the credit, reach out to your local consumer body.

"Additionally, retailers may not charge any additional fees to use the card after it is issued."

Millennials tend to have the most unused gift cards with half (49%) holding onto them compared to 31% of gen X.

Cooke said there are ways to make the most of your gift cards.

"Set a reminder on your phone for when the card expires so you remember to use it.

"Take a picture of the front and back of the card with your phone. In many cases, the details on the card will be sufficient to use the credit in the future if you lose it.

"If you've been given a card you don't think you'll use, consider re-gifting or selling it to friends, family or online marketplaces. This will help you recoup some of the value that would have otherwise been lost.

"Remember if you decide to resell it online, don't use a picture of the card's numbers or else it could be skimmed," Cooke said.

How many unused gift cards do you have?
3 or more15%
Source: Finder survey of 1,086 respondents, December 2022
Have you ever lost money on a gift card?
Yes, the company went out of business2%
Yes, I lost the gift card6%
Yes, the gift card expired22%
Source: Finder survey of 1,086 respondents, December 2022

Considering giving a gift card to someone special? Check out Finder's guide on gift cards on sale.

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