Question of the Day: How much (in $s) do consumers waste in unused gift cards each year?

Jan 04, 2021
Question of the Day, Budgeting

Answer: $3 billion


  • Why do you think that the balance on unused gift cards is in the billions?
  • What strategies can a consumer use to make sure that they don't lose track of their gift cards?
  • Would knowing that many people don’t use gift cards affect your gift-giving habits (i.e., would you decide not to give gift cards anymore since you’d be afraid it would never be used?)

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Behind the numbers (CBS News):

"A prepaid gift card may be a popular holiday present, with more than half of U.S. consumers purchasing one this season, but that doesn't mean they're used wisely: About $3 billion in cards will go unredeemed this year alone.  

As much as 3% of gift card dollars are never redeemed, according to an estimate from the Mercator Advisory Group. In 2019, consumers spent about $98.6 loading up gift cards, which means almost $3 billion was left on the table, according to C. Sue Brown, director of the group's prepaid advisory service."


Be sure to check out another NGPF resource on this topic: FinCap Friday: Stacking Unused Gift Cards


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About the Author

Mason Butts

After graduating from UCLA with a Master's in Education, Mason spent 5 years as a science educator in a South Los Angeles public high school. He is committed to supporting the holistic growth of all students and empowering them to live a life of relational, academic, and financial success. Now settled in the Bay Area, Mason enjoys facilitating professional developments and partnering with educators as they prepare students for a bright financial future. When Mason is not building curriculum or planning a training, he can be found cycling, trying new foods, and exploring the outdoors.