Forgotten and expired gift cards leave billions unspent

Australians could be nearly $200 richer if they kept track of their gift cards instead of letting them go to waste.

Across the nation, about $1.4 billion worth of gift cards have gone untouched, according to data from comparison website Finder.

Roughly one in three Australians are sitting on at least one unused gift card and almost one in five had cards that expired before they were able to use them.

Gift cards are a popular present for birthdays and holidays, especially when the gift giver is unfamiliar with their target.

But Finder’s personal finance expert Sarah Megginson says Australians should hold their cards close to their chest as many go missing, expire or – in the case of digital gift cards – get buried in an avalanche of notifications and emails.

“Letting gift cards go to waste is not only a missed opportunity to get value for yourself – you are effectively donating millions of dollars back to retailers,” Ms Megginson said.

In an effort to provide protection from consumers, all gift cards sold since 2019 have to have a minimum three-year expiry period.

But many are still squandering the chance to cash in on the gift.

Gen Z spenders were much less likely to spend their gift cards, with 37 per cent losing money compared to just 13 per cent of baby boomers.

While women were more likely to let their funds expire, men were sitting on $243 worth of unused cards compared to women’s $160.

And in one per cent of cases, shoppers were unable to use their cards because the company they were attached to had moved or gone out of business.

Ms Megginson urged Australians to set reminders of expiration dates on their phones and repurpose unwanted gift cards.

“If you have a gift card for a store that you don’t like, consider selling it on an online marketplace for a slightly lesser value so it doesn’t go to waste,” she said.


Kat Wong
(Australian Associated Press)


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