KEYE-TV - Search Results
Consumers Getting the Most Out Of Gift Cards
If you haven't bought any gift cards this holiday season, chances are good you will. Gift cards are a $100 billion industry and consumers are buying them in record numbers.
Sales are up 10 percent over last year and, with gift cards in such high demand, lawmakers are working to make sure less of that money goes to waste.
Clothes, electronics, and toys typically top many holiday wish lists. But, this year a record number of shoppers, six out of 10, say gift cards are what they want to get and give. Before Christmas 81 percent of holiday shoppers will buy at least one gift card. Many will buy three or four. And on average shoppers will spend $156 on those cards.
The popularity of gift cards is why U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is supporting a bill that would ban gift cards with expiration dates and those that carry fees for failing to use them after one year. The Democrat says the Gift Card Consumer Protection Act would also prevent companies that file for bankruptcy from selling gift cards and require them to accept and honor unredeemed gift cards.
Blumenthal says the measure will eliminate “exploitative expiration dates and petty, underhanded junk fees.” It's potentially, good news for consumers who put a lot of plastic under the Christmas tree.
While about 85 percent of gift cards are used within 60 days, the research firm, TowerGroup, says about $41 billion in gift cards have not been used since 2005. In some states that money reverts back to retailers, but not in Texas.
“We've got about $8 million in gift card unclaimed property that's in our system,” said R. J. DeSilva a spokesperson with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts that oversees the stateâs unclaimed property.
Texas and about half of other states have the authority to claim unused gift cards and then make it available to the consumers who purchased them.
âIf it's an unused gift card, if there is an expiration date, then it's either turned over three years after the last date of use or the expiration date, whichever is the earliest,â said DeSilva.
All you need is the number on the back of most gift cards to call the state and see if you have cash to claim. Call 1-800-654-FIND to see if the number pops up in state records as an unused gift card. If youâre lucky you may get some extra cash this Christmas.
By Bettie Cross