Did you get a gift card from Santa?

Gift cards are widely available these days - from retailers to supermarkets and petrol stations, you have an array of option for gifting. One of the best things of giving them as presents is that they are as good as cash for the person that receives it. Some carda, like Prezzy cards, are issued by Visa so they can be even used for online purchases.

Gift cards can make for a good present, right? Well, only if you remember to use them before their expiry date.

“Consumer NZ says that 24 per cent of gift cards expire with unused credit. Of those, more than half the users lost more than $20 and 10 per cent lost more than $60 – the entire average value”, reports Peter Calder from Stuff reports.

“Worldwide, the numbers are eye-watering. Research firm TowerGroup reported that in the US, US$41 billion (NZ$61.5 billion) of gift-card value went unused between 2005 and 2012. The figure dropped from US$8b in 2007 to US$2b in 2011 after the passage of a federal law requiring five-year validity.

In Australia, where 1.9 million people lost A$148 million last year alone, three-year validity will be required from next November. Ireland plans to require a minimum validity of five years”, continues Calder. Click here to read the full article.

These figures speak for themselves. It can be easy to forget about your gift card if you put it away somewhere, or even if you have it on your wallet. Consumer NZ is campaigning to get the expiry dates removed from the cards, but for the time being here are a few tips if you got a gift card from Santa:

  • Store your gift card in your wallet, somewhere you see can see it
  • Keep an eye out for gift cards from specific stores (ones that can only be used for that store) in case the company gets into trouble and goes into receivership
  • Plan and think about what you could use the gift card for: maybe it is something that you want to indulge on, something you need, or even a present for someone else?
  • “Spend the entire value even if it means supplementing it with a bit of cash. Statistically, you are unlikely to ever return to spend a residual few dollars and it will be money wasted”, says Calder.
  • Set a reminder a few weeks before the expiry date to give yourself time to spend it
  • If your card expires you can still contact the retailer, there’s a chance that if not a lot of time has passed from the expiry date, they are willing to give you a grace period


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