Americans holding onto $21 billion in gift cards, report says

Jan 4, 2023, 8:30 PM | Updated: 9:34 pm
According to a report, Americans are holding onto $21 billion in gift cards....
A report out says Americans are holding onto $21 billion in gift cards. Photo credit: Mark Jones/KSL NewsRadio.

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report out Wednesday says Americans are holding onto $21 billion in gift cards.

Sloan Schrage, an investigative reporter for KSL TV, joined Dave & Dujanovic with Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss this.

He says a lot of the cards he has in his wallet are for small amounts, and there isn’t a lot options for cards with little balance on them.

“There’s really not much if you’re trying to buy stuff online with that gift card,” he said. “You’re probably won’t be able to do much with that small balance.”

He says you could call customer service to a particular company and talk them into letting you pay off what you have on the gift card. Then pay the remaining balance on a regular credit or debit card.

The other option people have is to take the gift card physically into the store. Use the remaining balance toward a purchase, and then use a credit or debit card for the remaining purchase of the balance.

“So, you know it’s not hopeless,” Schrage said. “You can still spend that money; you probably won’t be able to use that money online.”

Use those gift cards right away

Noriega said he got a gift card for the holidays, and immediately went and spent it. He said if he didn’t spend it immediately, he would forget about it.

“Now I look at the 21 billion if I’m a business owner,” Noriega said. “I love it when you buy gift cards because the chances are you’re either not going to spend it, you’re going lose it. Or if you do, maybe you’ll spend, you know, here’s the $25 gift card but you’re gonna spend another 25 because you brought a date with you.”

Schrage says eventually time will run out on those gift cards.

“By federal law, gift cards can expire,” he said. “Well, they should expire in five years, I should say that.”

If you aren’t happy with your gift card, or want to make some money off it, Schrage says you have some options.

“There are actually a lot of websites where you can sell or trade your gift cards,” he said. “And make exchanges and that sort of thing.”

He does say that you won’t ever get full value for your gift card. In some cases, you can get between 85% and 92% of its value.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

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Americans holding onto $21 billion in gift cards, report says