KEY POINTS

  • Millennials of 24-39 age group most likely to re-gift gift cards and store credits
  • 33% of Gen Z in the 18-23 age group reported having lost at least one gift card
  • Gen X of the 40-55 age group and low-income households of under $30,000 reported most utilization

Although Americans love gift cards, they are leaving unused a whopping $21 billion worth of gift cards and store credits, a news survey has found. The survey by personal finance resource Bankrate shows that almost half the adults in the U.S. have this“unused money," and that it includes even airline redemption vouchers.

Why didn’t they use the gift cards? A significant 22% of respondents to the survey said they lost their cards, while 23% had regifted them and 8% had resold at least one card, a Fox Business report on the survey said. Millennials in the 24-39 age group were the most likely to re-gift their cards at 27%, while Gen Z of the 18-23 age group, at 33%, were most likely to have lost at least one card.

Unredeemed benefits

High-income households leave around unused cards and credits for the most amount. Families that make $80,000 or more annually have an average of $297 in unredeemed benefits, the report says. However, parents who have children under the age of 18 have a slightly better record of utilization and leave an average of $274 in unredeemed gift cards.

After the high-income earners, millennials in the 24-39 age group are most likely to leave unused the money on gift cards, the report says. They waste an average of $234.

RTW Retailwind RTW Retailwind will close up to 30 stores in the coming weeks. New York & Company store exterior at the launch of a New Collection at New York & Company on April 14, 2018 in Hialeah, Florida. Photo: Getty Images/John Parra

The least wastage was noticed among Gen Xers of the 40-55 age group and low-income households that make under $30,000, Bankrate says. Only 46% of Gen X leaves the money on gift cards unused, along with 41% of low-income households.

Across all the demographics, the average American adult leaves behind $167 in unused gift cards or credits.

About 36% of respondents said they did not plan to use all their gift cards or store credits. The survey used a sample size of 2,602 adults.

Some 23% of respondents said they planned to use most of their unredeemed cards. On the other hand, 9% said they planned to use only a few of their gift cards; 4% had no plans to use any.

'Real money'

While 57% of the respondents held onto at least one gift card for more than a year, Gen Z individuals were most likely to hold onto gift cards upward of 365 days. About 25% of U.S. adults reported that at least one of their gift cards had expired.

“Gift cards and store credits are real money, so treat them as such,” Ted Rossman, a Bankrate analyst, told Fox News. “If you’ve been holding onto a gift card from a store you don’t like, there’s nothing wrong with re-gifting it, using it to buy a gift for someone else, or even selling it.”

There is a bunch of websites that help self the gift cards that people do not want to use. “You can sell unwanted gift cards at sites such as Cardpool.com, CardCash.com, and GiftCardSpread.com,” Rossman said. “You can also buy discounted gift cards from these sites. That’s a great way to save on an upcoming purchase.” Some sites offer a one-year guarantee on the gift cards they resell.