More than two-thirds of Americans have unspent gift cards

Despite rising consumer debt, Americans are holding onto more than $21 billion in unused gift cards, and the global gift cards market is expected to hit a whopping $1.4 trillion by 2026.

Why are we so reluctant to spend them? Saturday, Jan. 21 is National Use Your Gift Cards Day. Credit Summit surveyed 1,200 Americans to compile some key statistics about unspent cards.

Some of our findings include:

  • More than 60 percent of survey respondents say they have at least one unredeemed gift card. The vast majority say their unredeemed cards are worth $200 or less. At least half of Americans have lost an unredeemed gift card at least once.
  • 76 percent have intentionally chosen not to spend a gift card. Some of the reasons cited were to save it for a special occasion (36 percent), waiting until they need something specific from the retailer (23 percent), because it’s from a place where they don’t usually shop (11 percent), redeeming them is a hassle (4 percent) or just forget them (2 percent).
  • Though 57 percent say they’ve never lost or misplaced a gift card, 43 percent have been unable to redeem them for several reasons: 25 percent because the cards were lost or misplaced, 5 percent because the cards were destroyed in a fire or other disaster, 10 percent kept them so long that they were no longer valid when they tried to redeem them and 3 percent couldn’t spend them because the store went out of business.