Gift card clutter

Gift CardWith the holidays behind us and the popularity of gift cards increasing every year, make sure you don’t let them go unspent. According to MarketWatch, about $1 billion worth of gift cards’ value will go unspent. Here are some tips so you don’t let your gift cards go to waste.

Keep them all together. If you have gift cards all over the place you’ll end up losing track of them. Keep them in one spot and look through them before you head out shopping.

Re-gift them. If you know someone who would be more likely to use the gift card you received, consider re-gifting it. Just take care you don’t end up giving it back to the person who gave it to you.

eBay them. If you received a gift card to a retailer that you don’t particularly like, eBay is a good way to get rid of the card. Rather than being stuck with a card that you will never use, get some value out of it. (The value is usually around 80%)

Don’t buy just because you can. If you have a gift card, don’t make that an excuse to purchase something. If you don’t like that particular store, don’t feel compelled to purchase their merchandise. Don’t clutter your home with gift-card guilt purchases.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

12 Comments for “Gift card clutter”

  1. posted by CP on

    Hey Matt,

    Here is another great idea,, where they buy certain gift cards. Just another addition to your 3 great tips above. Thanks.

    cp |

  2. posted by Glenn H on

    For political reasons I refuse to shop at Walmart, yet this year my children each got gift certificates there. I certainly didn’t want to support the company, nor did I want Walmart to reap even more profit from not using the cards. I had not though of selling them on eBay. That’s a great idea.

  3. posted by Avlor on

    I saw an article somewhere about putting gift cards and store “rewards”/club cards on a ring. Works well for me, I have them with me in one place. Just have to punch a hole in them and then they are not strewn about who knows where.

  4. posted by CP on

    Glenn H,

    I guess it would depend on which states Wal-Mart operates in based on what they can claim as profit from the gift cards. My understanding is that it’s up to state law on how gift card are reported financially. The only quick, real gain I see for companies is the interest they can be making on the money they’ve got for unused gift cards.

    cp |

  5. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    You can also use Gift Card Buy Back (

  6. posted by Patrick on

    Even though this advice is obvious [in hindsight after reading it], it served as a needed set of reminders for me. I’ve been sitting on a pair of $100 store credits to Apple that I got as iPhone refunds and this motivated me to put them on our bulletin board at work. Getting rid of them will give me some cash for something I actually want and make me stop wondering what I should buy just to have it.

  7. posted by Amie Ragan on

    …and then there is always the “re-gift.” Gift cards with about a $25 value make a great last minute birthday present. I always check to make sure there are no fees and hold on to smaller cards just for this reason. They are always gone by June.

  8. posted by karen on

    @CP: gift cards also serve to get new shoppers in a store. i.e., i might never have been to a walmart, but if i get a $100 gift card, i’ll go to spend it, and might become a new customer.

  9. posted by Eric Hague on

    Gift cards are profitable for stores whether they’re fully used or not. Often times when consumers use a gift card for it’s full balance, they end up having to pay a difference between the card’s value and the price of their purchase. So a $25 gift card might actually represent $25+ in actual sales for a store if nothing they sell can come out to exactly $25.00. Lame.

  10. posted by Paula Johnson on

    A few years ago, I held a pre-holiday party and asked guests to donate gift cards in any amount to be passed on to a local charity for abused children and families in crisis.

    The response was great! Some people purchased cards from Target, toy stores, or grocery stores, while others unloaded partially-used cards that had been gathering dust. Everyone got a tax write-off.

    You might consider donating your unwanted gift cards to a charity that serves kids. They can use the cards to buy birthday gifts, sporting goods, games, classroom rewards, etc.

  11. posted by Hak on

    Since I’m a minimalist at heart (or, more accurately, a junk collector in rehab!), I don’t like to carry a gazillion cards in my wallet. Yet every time I stop at a store where I can use a gift card, or frequent shopper rewards card, that card is in my “storage wallet” at home.


    To get around that, I’ve duct-taped an index card into an envelope that fits all of my gifts cards. That envelope sits in the glove box of my car so I will always have relatively easy access to the cards when I need them.

  12. posted by Lisa on

    I carry all my gift cards in a small tin in my handbag. And yes, ashamedly, I have that many simply because I forget to use them. However on the few Visa/MC I have with small balances, what I try to do with those small amounts is log into one of my accounts and put that small amount toward a bill I have, like my cell phone provider or cable company, something like that. I read that tip before and every penny counts, rather than letting say $2.54 stay on that gift card in my handbag for eternity.

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