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Millions of Aussies letting $243 go to waste

Millions of Aussies are letting their gift cards go to waste and losing out on major savings.

A composite image of shoppers outside a Westfield and Australian currency to represent shopping with gift cards.
Aussies are losing out on saving cash by leaving their gift cards unused. (Source: Getty)

Aussies risk losing billions of dollars on gift cards by not redeeming them, according to new research.

A Finder survey of 1,086 respondents revealed two in five (39 per cent) had unused gift cards lying around worth $1.9 billion. The research found those with gift cards had an average of $243 sitting in drawers going completely untouched.

Finder head of consumer research Graham Cooke said gift cards were a popular choice for presents, but more than a third went unused.

“Gift cards are a practical gift if you’re unsure of what someone will like or use. However, by not redeeming them, you’re essentially giving that money back to the retailer, and losing out on a great deal of savings,” Cooke said.

The data found three in 10 (29 per cent) Aussies had been left unable to redeem a gift card, one in five (22 per cent) couldn’t redeem their gift card because it had expired, 6 per cent misplaced it, and a further 2 per cent were unable to cash in on their gift card because the company had gone out of business.

Finder determined that was equivalent to 5.8 million people who missed out on an opportunity to use their credit. Cooke said having too many gift cards lying around unaccounted for was a recipe for disaster.

“Racking up gift cards can become a source of clutter; easy to lose track of. Up until recently, retailers could issue gift cards with an expiration date as short as six months. Thankfully, they must now allow you to use the card for a minimum of 3 years,” he said.

“It is illegal for retailers to issue cards with an expiry date shorter than this. If a retailer rejects your card within a three-year period, lodge a complaint. If they still won’t honour the credit, reach out to your local consumer body. Additionally, retailers may not charge any additional fees to use the card after it is issued.”

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Millennials tend to have the most unused gift cards – with half (49 per cent) holding onto them, compared to 31 per cent of Gen X.

Cooke said there were ways to make the most of your gift cards, like setting up reminders on your phone for when the card expired.

“Take a picture of the front and back of the card with your phone. In many cases, the details on the card will be sufficient to use the credit in the future if you lose it,” Cooke said.

“If you’ve been given a card you don’t think you’ll use, consider re-gifting or selling it to friends, family, or online marketplaces. This will help you recoup some of the value that would have otherwise been lost.

“Remember, if you decide to resell it online, don’t use a picture of the card’s numbers or else it could be skimmed.”

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