3 mins read Gift Card Brands

What Happens To Expired Or Unspent Gift Cards?

Gift cards are a brilliant marketing tool created by brands to ensure customer retention and give them a convenient method of shopping at their brand. 

Both small and large-scale businesses incorporate them. They are good to look at, and it also guarantees you would be coming back to the brand to patronize them. In reality, less than 80% of people actually redeem their gift cards. I am sure the question “What happens to expired or unspent gift cards?” crosses your mind once in a while.  

After reading this article, you would have an answer to this question and also know why you should redeem your gift cards. 

What Happens When Gift Cards Go Unspent?

A thinking Man.

When a gift card goes unspent and expires, the term is referred to as “gift card breakage The issuing brand benefits from gift card breakage, and I would let you know how. 

To the company, when a gift card is sold, it is registered as a sort of advanced payment. This is because they know you would be coming back to redeem it in the future. However, when you don’t and it expires, some part of that unspent balance goes back to the brand. The percentage is depending on the state and tax laws governing them.

This is why some companies hope you do not redeem your gift card. Unless you want to give rich corporations your money, the best way to ensure you do not have unused gift card codes is by redeeming them early. 

Benefits of Redeeming Gift Card On Time So It Doesn’t Go Unspent

A general study conducted indicated that most people redeem their gift cards within the first 6 months of getting them. The margin drops from 80% to as low as 10% between 9 months to a year. That being said, the significant reasons why you should redeem your gift cards on time are to beat inflation, utilize your digital asset when the brand is still functioning, and avoid losing the gift card.

1. Beat Inflation: In simple terms, inflation means the general rise in the price of goods and services over an elongated period. This happens in almost every country. When you redeem early, you will be able to enjoy the full benefits of your digital assets. As opposed to redeeming after inflation kicks in. Then your purchasing power reduces.

2. Redeeming When The Brand is Functioning: This mostly applies to small-scale businesses. On rare occasions, medium and large as well. Any business can suddenly go under. Sadly, when it does your gift card becomes useless.

3. Avoid Losing Your Gift Card: It is very possible to misplace a gift card. Much more likely if you are a bit careless. How to avoid this happening is simply redeeming your gift card as soon as possible. 

Other Ways To Use Your Gift Card 

gift card transaction

It is common knowledge that one of the major reasons why gift cards expire is the customer’s lack of interest in the brand. It is hard for you to use a gift card at a brand you have little to no interest in. So the possible solutions are to either swap them or sell them for cash.

1. Swap Them: This method may seem a bit crude and tedious, but it is worth a shot. You can look for a family member, friend, or colleague that has a gift card you want and is willing to collect yours. As I said, the chances are slim, but you miss 100% of the chances you do not take. 

2. Sell Them For Cash: Selling your unwanted gift cards for cash is a much more straightforward and convenient means of making use of the gift card. It also has a cash reward, so I believe you would like that if you are anything like me. If you reside in Nigeria or Ghana, the best place to sell your gift cards for cash is Cardtonic.


There is no doubt that gift card cards make daily living easier. Now that you know what happens when they go unused, even if you lose interest in yours, the onus is on you to pick a desired alternative of utilizing your gift card to avoid breakage.  

Watch the video below for further information on what happens to unspent gift cards.


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