CNN reported today that retailers make almost $4 billion dollars from gift cards and that this form of gift giving is the biggest loss for consumers. Why? The $4 billion dollars is not from items purchased using gift cards, it is the value amount of unredeemed gift cards each year.
This is not to say that gift cards /certificates do no have their place. However, with 25% of recipients failing to use these cards before the expiration date, recipients should take these measures to insure that they don’t lose out:
- Do not shelve these cards in a drawer. Put them immediately in your wallet where you keep your credit cards–same is true of your rewards cards.
- To get more bang for you gift card buck, use your cards immediately and take advantage of retailers After Christmas Sales when sales and clearance are 70% off or more. Low inventory may pose a selection limitation right now ; but wait a couple of weeks and try again after shelves and racks have been restocked.
- When using gift cards, consider buying something more extravagant that you have wished for–better to supplement gift card with cash, then to leave a forgettable balance, as 40% of gift.card buyers find out.
Remember, the longer you hold unto gift cards, the longer retailers have to use your money interest free–and unless you are a stock owner can you afford to subsidize them? Use it or lose it has particular meaning to this gift!