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Lapsed cash: Australians have $1.4 billion worth of unused gift cards


Millions of Australians are wasting money on gift cards that go unspent, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,039 respondents revealed more than 1 in 3 (35%) have at least 1 unused gift card, including 24% who have 2 or more.

Aussies have an average of $198 in gift cards sitting untouched, worth $1.4 billion nationwide.

Sarah Megginson, personal finance expert at Finder, said while gift cards are a popular choice for a present, many of them go unused.

"Opting for a gift card is a practical choice when you're unsure what the person will like or you want to give them something really useful.

"Keeping track of them can be challenging, and many end up unused simply because they get lost in a wallet or a drawer."

The research found 1 in 4 (24%) – equivalent to 4.9 million people – have wasted money on gift cards they never used.

Almost 1 in 5 (18%) said the gift card expired before they got around to using it, while 5% lost it.

A further 1% were unable to redeem the gift card because the company went out of business.

Men have $243 each in unredeemed gift cards, while women have $160.

Women (28%) are more likely than men (21%) to let funds expire.

Megginson said in a digital era, gift cards can get buried among notifications and messages.

"Letting gift cards go to waste is not only a missed opportunity to get value for yourself – you are effectively donating millions of dollars back to retailers.

"Luckily any gift cards purchased after November 2019 must come with a minimum 3-year expiry period, but don't delay. Retailers can still go out of business or move locations, leaving you holding the bag."

Megginson urged Aussies to try to make the most of their gift card so they don't let a single dollar go to waste.

"Set a reminder on your phone to spend the gift card each month that includes the expiration date.

"If you have a gift card for a store that you don't like, consider selling it on an online marketplace for a slightly lesser value so it doesn't go to waste," Megginson said.

Baby boomers are the most diligent in spending gift cards, with only 13% having lost money, compared to 37% of gen Z.

How many unused gift cards do you have?
3 or more13%
Source: Finder survey of 1,039 respondents, December 2023
Have you ever lost money on a gift card?
Yes, the company went out of business1%
Yes, I lost the gift card5%
Yes, the gift card expired18%
Source: Finder survey of 1,039 respondents, December 2023

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

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