Jan 08, 2023

Question of the Day: What is the average value of unused gift cards per person in America?

Gift cards are one of the most asked for gifts, but how much of the value is never used?


Answer: The average unused amount is $175 per person, up from $116 last year.


  • Why do you think that the balance on unused gift cards is so high?
  • What strategies can a consumer use to make sure that they don't lose track of their gift cards?
  • Although gift cards are often asked for, would knowing that many people don’t use gift cards impact your decision to give gift cards as presents?

Here are the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.


Behind the numbers (CNBC):

"Even as many people struggle to stretch their incomes amid high inflation, it turns out there’s money they already have they’re probably overlooking — unused gift cards. The average unused amount is $175 per person, up from $116 last year. For the entire U.S. adult population, that may add up to $21 billion, CreditCards.com estimates. Amid record-high prices, those sums may provide a welcome boost to consumers’ wallets.

“It’s like finding that $20 bill in that jacket pocket from last winter,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. “But in this case, it’s even more money than that.”

Holding onto gift cards can be a losing proposition for multiple reasons, Rossman said. The value of the unused sums could go down because of inflation. You may lose the card or get charged inactivity fees. Or the store may go out of business.” 



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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.

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