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02/18/2020

Bankrate.com: Americans have $21 billion in unused gift cards, credits

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
Marianne Wilson profile picture
gift card

Americans are leaving a lot of money on the table. 

While gift cards topped holiday wish lists, half of U.S. adults currently hold unredeemed gift cards or store credits, including airline redemption vouchers, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com, with the average unredeemed amount totally $167. Collectively, this represents $21 billion in untouched money. 

Among those with unused gift cards or store credits, 57% have held onto at least one of them for more than a year. Gen Z is more likely than any other generation to hold onto their gift card for more than 365 days (70% vs. 56% of those who are older).

Those sitting on a mound of unredeemed value include high-income households ($80,000plus+, $297 credit on average), parents with children under 18 ($274 average), and millennials (ages 24-39, $234 average). Gen X (ages 40-55) and low-income households (under $30,000) are the least likely to leave gift cards on the table (46%, and 41%, respectively).

Here are other findings from the Bankrate.com survey.
• More than one-third (36%) of those with unused funds say they won’t use all their gift cards/store credits, including 23% who plan to use most of their unredeemed cards, 9% who said only a few, and 4% who plan to spend none.

• One-quarter of U.S. adults allowed a gift card to expire at some point, 23% re-gifted, 22% lost and 8% resold at least one gift card. Millennials are more likely to re-gift their gift cards (27%), while Gen Z (ages 18-23) is more likely to have lost one (33%).