We know a lot of retail stores across the globe that sell gift cards on top of typical items especially during the holiday season. Often displayed on or near counters, gift cards continue to thrive and become a hit because of the unique feel they impart to the receiver.

What is a gift card?

A gift card, also known as gift certificate, is a prepaid card with monetary value that is issued and can be used in lieu of cash for any purchases within the store from where it is issued. Gift cards are usually produced and issued by marketers and retailers as a promotional stunt to lure the consumers to visit or return to the store. Although they cannot be cashed out, gift cards ultimately give the gift recipients the freedom to buy the items that they truly desire without having to spend out of their own pockets.

However, despite the thrill that it gives, there are a few downsides of owning one. For instance, most gift cards come with expiry dates and that means being unable to use it within the specified period forfeits its value and automatically qualifies the card as breakage, allowing the seller to take away the liability from their accounts and treat the unredeemed money as revenue on their part. Such an instance can occur for the following common reasons:

  1. The receiver forgot that the gift card was left in his pocket, wallet, drawer, or somewhere else.
  2. The receiver does not visit regularly on the store where the card was issued.
  3. The receiver hardly had time to go out and use it.
  4. Location constraints; especially when the receiver resides in a place far from the retail store.

Expiry dates may be the number one culprit of forfeited gift cards. To do away with that, below are some tips to help you:

Tip #1: Use it sooner than later.

In 2015 alone, accounted unused gift cards from different retailers throughout the globe amounted to a whopping amount near $1 billion. This massive amount could be equated as a loss on the part of the consumers while an instant, easily earned revenue on the issuer’s part. Don’t be a part of this consumer population.

If you have been planning to utilize your gift cards, now or anytime sooner is the right time to spend it while forgetting about it is still less likely. This is especially true if the retail store that issued the gift card is not so secured and bears the tell-tale signs of instability and closing down. As getting a refund from the retail store is also not a guarantee, using it late can cost you the card’s entire value, rendering it useless in the long run.

Gift it to a loved one

If you have received a gift card from a particular store and it has been stuck unused with you for quite long because of location constraints, the most viable solution you may have is giving it to a loved one, be it a family member or a close friend, who resides near the particular store’s area. You can opt to have it shipped all the way to your new recipient’s location, or you can simply send a soft copy of the card to her and take advantage of this digital age.

Sell it

If the thought of giving something that was gifted to you bothers you, you can sell your gift card instead. All you have to do is find trustworthy websites that accept and sell gift cards online on your behalf and then use the proceeds to buy stuff from retail stores near you. That way, you will still be able to preserve the purpose of the gift card and not cause any unnecessary emotional burden on the part of the giver. However, as you go for this resort, make sure to choose a website that offers up to 93% of your card’s value and practices fast payout.

Donate it

You can, on the other hand, donate your gift card. On the upside, this may entitle you to claim for tax deductions from the donation’s value.

Tip #2: Control your spending.

According to the records of a certain digital company, 75% of their gift card holders spent more than the card’s value with almost $40 excess. Whether to overspend or underspend is actually your call. If you have the capacity to pay for the excess, good. However, your financial capability should not be a constant excuse to make overspending a tolerable habit. Do not be a “gift card creep”.

On a brighter note, you can actually enjoy more than your gift card’s value without having to spend your own money. Just look around for some discount coupons or use your gift card whenever gift card discounts are offered. Stay informed so you’ll know when the best time is to use it.

Nowadays, there are also some countries that entail gift card issuers to allow gift card-to-cash conversion to rescue card users who have used out the card’s entire value or whose cards fell below the threshold. Refunding gift cards for cash lower than its value is also allowed in some states.

Tip #3: Find out new things from your gift card.

While a gift card lets the recipient personally pick a gift item that she truly wants and this significantly lessens the likelihood of disappointment, people who are not fond of shopping and are rather indoor persons apparently see gift cards as a burden and less fancied form of gift as they would have to feel inclined, without a choice, to take some out of their precious time to visit the retail store and use the card to avoid a forfeit.

Meanwhile, there are people who consider gift cards as a thing for thrill as much as actual gifts excite them. If you are a part of this populace, you are encouraged to go out of your corner and make the most of what you have. In no time, you’ll surely come across an item that will be of use to you.

The Latest Trend

A lot of websites nowadays offer a convenient solution for gift card owners who are not fond of its concept and want to dispose their cards without trashing their value. What they do is, after accepting and deliberating about your card’s value, they will offer you cash in trade for it, and you’ll instantly get the cash once they’ve successfully sold it to a gift card seeker online. With such a win-win solution, it’s no surprise how such a concept is one of today’s trends.