Got gift cards collecting dust? Now’s the time to use them


The gift cards are stacking up for Neil Cooper. After a rely, he says he has 19 cards kicking round his residence. 

“I don’t know how a lot are on any of those,” stated Cooper, whose assortment of gift cards ranges from The Keg to Canadian Tire. 

“We do not actually exit that a lot. Now, perhaps my spouse can be upset about that as a result of we may exit extra. But we’ve not been a pair that is gone out for dinner quite a bit.”

Cooper is a busy pediatrician in Calgary who receives gift cards as presents for Christmas or for doing talks associated to his work. 

And he is not the just one with a group of unused gift cards.

Square, a monetary expertise firm that sells cellular cost gadgets, discovered Canadians are sitting on greater than $33 million price of unspent gift cards by way of its platform alone. 

And as inflation rises and wears down individuals’s wallets, these gift cards have gotten much less and fewer priceless. Of that cash tracked by Square, $20 million is on bodily gift cards, whereas the different $13 million is on digital gift cards.

This is simply a part of Neil Cooper’s assortment of unused gift cards. (Submitted by Neil Cooper)

Cooper used to retailer his cards in a submitting cupboard to preserve them organized. But he discovered he wasn’t considering to use them. 

So he moved them to his automobile’s glove compartment, however many nonetheless go unused. He’s even taken it a step additional for his gift cards to Tim Hortons. 

“I’ve taken all the Tim Hortons cards out of the glove compartment and put them with the Tims rewards card with a paperclip on my sprint in order that it is there,” stated Cooper. 

Pandemic gross sales spike

Wendy Cogan-Toyoda, who works with Square, says the firm collected knowledge about gift card use from a whole lot of hundreds of companies, together with retailers, eating places and different companies. 

“Customers do neglect that they’ve these gift cards misleading round. The bodily ones and the digital ones. And it is actual cash that they are leaving on the desk,” stated Cogan-Toyoda. 

Toyoda stated that in the begin of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a spike in digital gift card purchases to assist companies whereas they have been closed. She says these gift card gross sales went up by 233 per cent in March of 2020, in contrast to the yr earlier than. 

“They have been held onto [by] the prospects to use for themselves at a later time when the enterprise hopefully reopened. And whereas a lot of the companies have reopened, we nonetheless see a excessive variety of sellers with unredeemed gift card balances.” 

There was a spike in gift card buying throughout the pandemic, says Wendy Cogan-Toyoda. (Shannon Martin/CBC)

Cogan-Toyoda says the resolution is to take stock of your gift card stock and verify the balances so you possibly can take full benefit of your further funds. 

And she says companies may also help with this too, by placing QR codes on the again of gift cards that can present information about the remaining stability, the location of the enterprise and if there’s a web based retailer. 

She says it is vital for companies to make sure that their prospects use these gift cards, though they have already got the cash.

“You do need the buyer to come again in as a result of, on common, your prospects will overspend on that stability,” stated Cogan-Toyoda. 

“Ultimately [businesses] need to see individuals coming by way of the door and ensuring that they arrive again, invite extra family and friends, presumably reload their gift cards, purchase extra gift cards.”

So spend ’em

Recently, Cooper tried to use considered one of his restaurant gift cards, however when he went to swipe the card, he was advised a distinct firm purchased the chain and the gift card was now not legitimate. 

“I believe that is going to be the case with perhaps considered one of these. I do know that considered one of these eating places is not round anymore,” stated Cooper.  “I assume we simply will not use that one.”

That’s why Bridget Casey says you should not let these gift cards gather mud. 

“Use them instantly, as quickly as you possibly can,” stated Casey, a finance skilled based mostly in Edmonton who admits she even has stacks of her personal unused gift cards. 

Bridget Casey says you need to be extra organized together with your gift cards, so it can save you cash and spend your gift cards. (CBC)

“Often I’m going to the retailer with like 4 or 5 gift cards simply to verify the stability.”

Caset says they’re simple to neglect as a result of we do not at all times carry them with us like we do with money or a bank card. But leaving that cash round can have penalties.

“Especially proper now that we’re on this excessive inflation atmosphere, there is a good probability that the good or service that you really want to buy can be dearer a number of months from now,” stated Casey.

“At any time, as quickly as you obtain a gift card, strive to spend it straight away. Like now I strive to truly preserve mine in my pockets so I’ll truly see them after I open for my debit card or my bank card.”

But, Casey says, do not use it simply to use it. Then you run the danger of overspending on the newest piece of expertise or shopping for one thing you do not want. Instead, put your gift card towards belongings you would do or purchase anyway.

“I’m saying spend your gift cards, and save your precise cash.”

That’s what Cooper plans to do. He desires to make a dent in his pile of gift cards, beginning with the eating places. 

“Maybe my spouse can be comfortable on Friday. We’ll see.”

Produced by Jennifer Keene.


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