Breaking News
More () »

$21 billion in gift cards reportedly goes unused. How you can remember to spend those cards

The National Retail Federation says more than half of Americans want gift cards for the holidays. But many cards go unused.

PHOENIX — Did you get any gift cards for the holidays?

According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of Americans say gift cards are what they want most during the holidays.

Yet, roughly $21 billion in unused cards is outstanding. Consumer guide Shelley Hunter with GiftCards.com said there are some best practices for remembering to use those conveniently-gifted plastic cards.

"The number one thing to do is to put them where you'll remember to use them," she explained.

While yes, gift cards are the most requested item, many recipients let them go to waste but there are simple ways to work them into your post-holiday spending. Hunter said not to stash the cards in that pesky junk drawer.

"I put them in my wallet, if they're plastic I put them by my debit and credit cards that I use most often," she said.

The average person is sitting on about $175 in unused cards, creating that $21 billion deficit, some of which are e-gift cards.

"If they're e-gift cards, then I want to put them on my phone in a place where I'm going to see them," Hunter said.

She adds that taking a quick picture of the front and back of the card can help jog your memory or it's helpful in case you lose the card altogether.

"This way, I'll have the gift card number and then I can at least (use) it digitally even if I can't use it in the store anymore," Hunter said.

Plus, Hunter said if you're not going to use the card, sometimes you can trade it for cash or request the existing balance.

"If you live in California or several other states and you use part of the gift card, you (can) ask for the balance to be returned to you, once it falls below their threshold."

Worst case, you regift the card or use a trusted website to sell or trade it in even if it costs you a small fee to forfeit.

"What I would be looking for is a site that offers customer service, a money-back guarantee, and someone you can talk to if things don't go as planned," Hunter added.

Up to Speed

Catch up on the latest news and stories on our 12News YouTube playlist here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out