Got Gift Cards? Spend them Wisely This Year

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Gift cards truly are the gift that keeps on giving. More gift cards were purchased this year than ever before – nearly $32 billion worth! When surveyed, 80% of shoppers had plans to buy and give gift cards this holiday season.

So, chances are good that you’re going to be on the receiving end of at least one of these little beauties.

You know that giddy feeling of suddenly having a bunch of “money” to spend in your favorite store(s). Gift cards give you the freedom to basically shop for your own Christmas gifts – and they’re slightly less tacky than giving cash, so more people are reaching for them. Consumers report feeling better about gifting someone with a gift card than with something totally useless.

Believe it or not, retailers absolutely LOVE selling gift cards, for several reasons. Oftentimes, the recipient forgets about the card altogether. Some people receive cards for stores that are simply too far away from their homes. Some gift cards have “inactivity fees” that gradually lower the card’s value over time. Unfortunately, some gift cards are lost or even stolen. All of these variables add up to bigger profits for retailers.

This year, if you’re the recipient of one or more gift cards, there are some things you can do to use your it wisely. First of all, make sure you register it as soon as you can. This will protect the balance if you do happen to lose it or it becomes stolen. If your gift card is stolen, report the theft directly to the issuer right away. If you’re lucky, they may replace the card. Sometimes this requires a small replacement fee.

Always treat a gift card just like cash money. Your best bet is to use them sooner rather than later so that you don’t end up losing them or forgetting about them.

What is an e-gift card?

Many retailers are now offering electronic gift cards. These are becoming more popular because they can be purchased online, allowing consumers to do even more of their holiday shopping from the comfort of their own homes. An electronic gift card works just like the plastic kind – the only difference being that they’ll be emailed and printed rather than purchased in a brick and mortar establishment.

E-gift cards can be used online or in stores, and they are much harder to lose since they will be sitting in your email inbox rather than – wait, where did you put that thing, again?

Over a billion dollars worth of gift cards go unused every single year. That’s a lot of money that’s just going straight back into retailers’ bank accounts. Just as you wouldn’t keep a fifty dollar bill in your wallet without ever spending it, don’t let your gift cards go to waste either. Happy shopping!

Image Credit: Kool Cats Photography

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