What to Do With All Those Gift Cards

Sue BerginSue Bergin

While the number of unused gift cards has shrunk over the last couple of years, an awful lot of money is still wasted on them. 5% to 7% of gift cards go unused each year. While that may not sound like much, it adds up quickly. In fact, from 2005 to 2011, $41 billion worth of gift cards were unredeemed. This breaks down to an average of $300 worth of unused gift cards per household.

Managing gift cards is low on most clients’ priority list. It is a “low-reward” activity that, if ignored, typically results in momentary levels of frustration at missed opportunities.

In the recipient’s mind, gift cards usually fall within one of two categories: unwanted, or intended for use at a later point.

shutterstock_41604499 [Converted]Unwanted gift cards can be ignored, donated to charity, re-gifted, or exchanged. Services such as Plastic Jungle, GiftCardRescue, and Cardpool facilitate exchanges between those who want cash for unused cards, and those who want to buy cards cheap.

Many gift card holders have no interest in selling or trading. They intend to use the card at some point…they just never get around to it. Along the way, the card gets lost, partially spent, or forgotten.

In today’s digital era, where there is a problem, there are one, two, twelve or twenty apps to solve it. Swagg, Passbook, GiftCards – Balance Tracker, Bamboo Wallet, GoWallet and MyMiniWallet are all apps that help manage gift card balances. There are many others. Some have features to manage loyalty cards, event tickets, and coupons along with gift cards. Some even offer an alert system to notify users when a gift card balance is about to expire.

Many of your clients may have put financial organization on their resolution list. Take the opportunity to spread the word about how easily gift cards can be managed.