You may want to check your junk drawer. Nearly half of all Americans are holding onto $21 billion in unused gift cards, according to a new report from Creditcards.com. That averages out to about $175 per person.
According to the National Retail Federation, 54% of Americans said gift cards are the most requested item this holiday season. Creditcards.com also found that 25% of people said they’ve misplaced their gift cards.
Gift card expert Shelley Hunter told CBS News that it is important to treat a gift card like cash and keep it next to your credit cards. In addition, stores in at least 12 states will give you cash back if you have a small leftover balance.
For unwanted gift cards there are some reputable websites where you can sell or trade them for a fee. She also said you should take a picture of the card immediately to have a record of the gift card number.
“I really recommend you use your gift cards right away,” Hunter said. “The longer you hold onto a gift card, the higher the probability you’ll forget to use it.”
Keep in mind, if you don’t use those gift cards, retailers will still make money. But they don’t want that, Hunter said. Stores want you to use it because there’s a good chance you’ll spend even more.
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