Don’t forget to use your gift cards

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Gift cards can be a great idea if you’re struggling for inspiration at Christmas, or any other time of year. But they’re only a wise investment if the recipient actually remembers to use them – and Canstar Blue research shows that many people simply forget to do so.

Our survey of more than 2,700 adults found that 87% have received a gift card or shopping voucher from family or friends. Of those recipients, a staggering 42% admitted they have forgotten about a gift card for several months after receiving it – going about their daily business and spending their own money, all the while carrying what is effectively free cash.

If that wasn’t bad enough though, 30% of those recipients also said they have forgotten about a gift card for so long that by the time they remembered it, the card had expired. That means a lot of money could be going to waste.

“It may be good news for the retailers, but it’s not great for the person who bought you the gift if you completely forget to use it,” said Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle. “Gift cards can be a great idea, but only if you’re smart about them.

“Make sure you check the expiry date on the card.  It’s very easy to slip a card into your wallet and not think about it again until a much later date and by then it could be too late.”

So to avoid wasting your money, what can you do? Here are some tips for those buying gift cards for friends or family to spend.

  • Consider if the recipient would like a gift card.  They are the ultimate convenience, but are also an indication that you grabbed a quick gift at the checkout, so consider if the recipient would have expected you to put a bit more thought into their gift.
  • Is it the right card for the recipient? Just because you would like a gift card from a particular store doesn’t mean everyone will. Be sure to choose a card that suits the person you’re buying it for.
  • Encourage the recipient to use their gift card. You paid for it, so don’t be afraid to ask them what they bought or remind them to use their card. They may appreciate the reminder and you can be sure your money doesn’t go to waste.
  • Don’t forget to check the expiry date! You may not be the one who uses the card, but it’s a good idea to check the expiry date and pass on that information to the recipient so they’re aware.

What about advice for those who receive a gift card? Well, you could make sure the gift card is clearly visible in your wallet or purse so you remember to use it when you’re out shopping. You could even use an app like Use It Don’t Lose It which sends alerts to card-holders, reminding them where they stored their card and when it expires.

But ultimately the responsibility is on you, the recipient. If someone has taken the time – and spent the money – on buying you a gift card, the least you could do is go out and spend it. You might get something nice…

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