Unused Gift Cards Total $41 Billion Since 2005

In Life by Wendy Michaels , on Thursday, December 29, 2011, 11:45 AM (PST)
gift cards
Lost gift cards, fees and expiration dates add up


New Regulations Eliminate Expiration Dates, Fees

There's a reported $41 billion in unused gift cards since 2005. Why so high?

Gift card loss, expiration dates and fees all play their part but new regulations are protecting consumers.

Have you ever stumbled upon one of your forgotten gift cards only to find it's expired? Or perhaps you got one for a store you have no intention of buying from?

New research firm TowerResearch found that U.S. gift card transactions have swelled past $100 billion in 2011, with 85 percent of cards used within 60 days.

Brian Riley, senior research director for the company says that the $41 billion of unused gift cards also includes fees and lost value once the cards expire.

New regulations from the Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure, or CARD, Act of 2009 have helped decrease hidden fees and expiration dates, with lost gift card value falling from $8 billion in 2007 to $2 billion in 2011.

Read: Tips on Giving Gift Cards

Riley noted, "That loss number has really shrunken in the last couple years. Since the CARD Act came into play, it has eliminated expiration dates and junk fees on the cards."

That's good news if you find a card laying around that you forgot to use.

They found that through 2008, expired cards accounted for the largest value lost, followed by fees and finally those lost cards making up 9 percent of total lost value.

If you have a gift card that you never think you'll use, you can exchange it through sites like Plastic Jungle and


Read More About gift cards »

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