Let’s use up those forgotten gift cards!


So today is not National Use Your Gift Card Day, but I just learned that it’s a thing (celebrated January 18th in 2020), and rather than wait for that glorious day to come I thought we’d kick off the party early since EVERY DAY is a great day to cash in those forgotten gifts ;)

And forgotten is an understatement as apparently we give up close to $1 BILLION of unused gift cards every single year!! One billion!! Of FREE money!

Now maybe that’s due to us losing them, or even more probable – not *liking* the ones we’ve gotten and forgetting about them on purpose – but in any case that’s a lot of cash to throw down the drain and I say today we make a dent in that $1,000,000,000. Let’s see if we can get it down to at least $999,999,000, shall we? ;) I think we can collectively use up $1,000, right?

It’s as easy as 1) collecting them all up and then making it your mission to finally USE THEM!, or 2) picking out any of these other options below if it’s indeed a card you couldn’t care less about:

  • Using it to buy something for someone *else*
  • Re-gifting the card, so long as you don’t give it back to the original gifter! (very important)
  • Donating it to a local charity who will find a good use for it
  • Swapping them at any of those gift card swapper sites (Cardpool, Raise, GiftCardGranny)
  • Selling them at any of those gift card swapper sites
  • Giving them away on your blog/social/anywhere else your friends gather together
  • Or lastly, being adventurous for once and just TRYING THEM OUT! ;)

Or if you’re one who prefers to plan ahead with such things and not take on random challenges from money bloggers online, haha, here are some ways to at least help you REMEMBER to use them later so you don’t forget all over again:

  • Clip them to your fridge!
  • Store them in your cell phone case/work lanyard/wallet you always carry with you
  • Stash them in your car console! (Yes, perhaps they could get stolen one day, but if you’ve already “lost” them what does it matter? Haha… That’s where I keep all mine anyways – that way whenever I show up to a place and then kick myself for not remembering the card, Past Me does me a solid by having it right there with me in the car! Which also works well for any *returns* I need to do too which I also used to be notorious for forgetting…)
  • And then finally, adding up calendar items to alert you to use them – along with the expiration date – also make for excellent reminders

Lots of ways to complete the mission, but just make sure you indeed complete it!! One billion dollars is a ton of money to waste, not to mention the kind gesture from your loved ones who thought of you in the first place… So if you don’t do it for you, do it at least for them dammit! ;)

I’ll pass out another reminder come NUYGCD (National Use Your Gift Card Day), but in the meantime let’s see if we can hit our goal of using up $1,000 this week!! Let me know when you’ve completed it and I’ll tally it all up!

PS: I’m going to finally use our 5 year old movie theater gift card I keep forgetting about :) Frozen 2 here we come!!! Lol…

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  1. MK December 4, 2019 at 7:56 AM

    Funny you should bring this up today! Last night I wanted to sort thru coupons for my upcoming grocery run & found I had put my gift cards in with my coupons. I remembered I had two cards but I actually had 8 in all – 6 I didn’t realize I still had. Three are for restaurants & three are for retail stores. Not all of them have the full balance but $63.87 is a mighty nice surprise ;)

    1. J. Money December 4, 2019 at 1:51 PM


      Now that’s a nice score! Haha…

      I give you to the end of the week to cash them all in, please :)

  2. Adam December 4, 2019 at 9:19 AM

    Oh jeez. We still have Fandango gift cards from when we moved into our house nine years ago. We don’t go to the movies very often, and never remember these cards exist when we do. Thanks for the reminder! Maybe I’ll go see what raise.com will give me for those things, if they haven’t expired.

    1. J. Money December 4, 2019 at 1:53 PM

      Let me know if you get rich!!

      Or maybe they’d make good gifts for future babysitting/housesitting/petsitting for people? :)

  3. One Frugal Girl December 4, 2019 at 10:17 AM

    I have a giant stash all with odd values on them. I just told my husband not to forget about them if anything ever happens to me. He could go on a huge buying spree. We don’t really need anything new in our lives and the shops aren’t ones we frequent regularly, so they stay in that big box just waiting to be used. Maybe I could add value to them and give them away. It seems weird to give a card with an odd number of dollars and cents left on it. Although free is free I guess. What do you think?

    1. J. Money December 4, 2019 at 1:55 PM

      I think free money is free money and I wouldn’t turn it down :)

      You reminded me that another good idea though is to WRITE THE AMOUNTS left on the back of the cards w/ sharpie so you always know what’s there, especially if you need to key in exact figures since sometimes the cards get rejected when you try to use them for more than they’re worth which is annoying.

  4. Nita December 4, 2019 at 10:56 AM

    Better NOT magnet the cards to the fridge unless you don’t want them used by anyone ever :P

    I think the extent of my riches is two identical gift cards for a makeup chain… we don’t have many of them in my family. (I wish)

    1. J. Money December 4, 2019 at 1:57 PM

      Woops, good call on the magnets – editing it out now! :)

  5. Kellie @ Big Style Finance December 4, 2019 at 2:20 PM

    I don’t think I’ve ever thought about how much money is wasted on neglected gift cards before. It’s certainly a lot more than I expected! I’ll have to have a rifle through my purse to see if I have any.

  6. Pat December 4, 2019 at 5:09 PM

    We have a 4 year old gift card from a chocolate/wine pairing bar that we still haven’t used! Hopefully they’ll still honor it as some places don’t after a year. It’s on my list of places to contact today. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. J. Money December 5, 2019 at 6:43 AM


  7. Tonya December 4, 2019 at 6:40 PM

    What are these “forgotten gift cards” you speak of? I LOVE gift cards! I ALWAYS use them. It’s the gift of shopping (for something you really want, not what someone else thinks you want).

    1. J. Money December 5, 2019 at 6:44 AM

      I know – they’re great!! :)