You would never forget to spend a gift card, right?  You'd be surprised how many people leave that free money on the table.

Since 2005, Americans have left more than $45 billion unspent, on unused gift cards.  Wow!  That could buy a small country or 45 billion things off the dollar menu.  That's amazing.

What in the world happened? Did they lose the card? Did they put it in the back of their wallet and forget about it? Do they not realize gift cards can buy stuff and they don't have to use their own money?  Gift cards are like finding five bucks in a pants pocket on the way to the washing machine.  It's bonus money you didn't have five minutes ago and therefore, it's begging to be spent.

The minute I get a gift card it goes into a special place in my wallet that I lovingly refer to as the "the burning hole," and it starts scorching that spot until I spend it. It usually takes about three days.

Finder.com said about half of all gift cards are redeemed within two months and the rest within a year, but still, about 20% of gift cards are unused after a full year from purchase.  As much as 3% of gift card dollars are never redeemed at all. Maybe it's a niche store that the recipient isn't all that interested in, or maybe the gift card gets lost under a pile of papers in the home office, but if it were in the "burning hole" section of the wallet, it would be spent in no time flat. Almost $3 billion in gift card cash went unused in 2019 alone.

I bought a bunch of gift cards again this holiday season for my nieces, sister, and mom. They love to shop and they all requested gift cards, and it saved me time shopping. They had the gift card spent by the time they left town two days after Christmas.

The Top Gift Cards this holiday season, according to Wallethub:

1. Starbucks

2. Target

3. Fandango

4. Walmart

5. Whole Foods

If your gift cards are collecting dust because you don’t like the stores they’re to, Finder.com says you should consider selling them. Sites like Cardpool allow you to sell your cards or exchange them for stores or products you like better. Just don't let them sit.  A gift card combined with the five bucks you discover in your pants pocket, well, that could be lunch or a whole new stash of toilet paper.  It's worth the effort.

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