Tag Archives: Gift Cards

Are Cdns really wasting $1B in unused Gift Cards a year?

Originally published Feb 17 2013 by LegacyTracker

I think I have written about my aversion to Gift Cards before. Yes I have several on hand myself and I have certainly given out my share but that doesn’t mean they don’t make me nervous. They make me actually jittery. What if the Company is no longer around when I get around to using a Gift Card I have? What if I lose a gift card? Right now my husband is searching for a $50 Keg Card and I can’t get it off of my mind. 


Some surveys seem to suggest that up to 56% of cards don’t get used.That seems really high. Consumer Reports magazine had last estimated that 25% of cards remain unused more than a year after received , CardSwap which is a Canadian site for buying, selling or donating gift cards estimates that Canadians spend around $6B each year buying gift cards. They estimate that every Cdn household has approximately $300 in unused gift cards lying around and that wasted cards add up to as much as $1B thrown away each year.

No matter the actual total-it’s  a lot of money. The most popular reason for not using a gift card is reported as  “not having enough time to shop “(59%). I am definitely included in that group. The second most popular reason given by consumers for a gift card not being used is not finding an item that they want to buy at that particular retailer (35%).  So, that sort of defeats the entire reason that the person gave the gift card in the first place. Lost cards are somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10% and some estimates of cards issued in a year are as high as $90 Billion.. I prefer not to do the math on this.  

In some US States retailers are now required to register the cards in a name because gift cards will now be covered by “unclaimed property”  legislation (which I have definitely mentioned on this blog before)  Oh America you are beautiful sometimes.

In any case, the article lists the following sites with some pros and cons of each. As an added bonus, most of these sites are also able to check your card balances as well (a much more efficient way to find the balance instead of searching through each retailers

CardSwap appears to still be the largest platform where Canadians can buy, sell or donate their unused gift cards; although donations seem to be restricted at this point to specified gift card drives

Here are a couple of other sites for buying/selling your gift cards:

Gift Card Granny-Canadian Site 

Giftah – Buy and Sell

Many Canadian charities now gladly accept gift cards and the information for doing that is on their website

The rules about gift cards related to expiries, fees, terms or conditions vary by Province. The Retail Council of Canada had a summary of Gift Card legislation on their site but it has now disappeared. 

Perhaps this long weekend might be a good time to clean up and out our wallets if you have too many old gift cards lying around

I aspire personally to use all of my gift cards this year and not to acquire any more; I think gift cards are really only suitable when you are absolutely, positively sure that the recipient will use them quickly and happily