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Should You Give Gift Cards? They May Not Be Used

What can you get for the person who has everything? Increasingly, consumers are turning to gift cards. Gift cards are convenient, and they let recipients choose how they want to spend the money.

Yet while gift cards may seem like a good choice, very many are never used. According to a survey by Plastic Jungle, more than $30 billion worth of gift cards are gathering dust in American households. Plastic Jungle, which has a vested interest because it will buy unused cards at a discount, reports that U.S. consumers buy about $90 billion in gift cards each year, and it estimates that more than one in 20 goes unused.

Would you be better off simply giving gifts of cash? That’s often considered to be impersonal, and the money may get spent on routine expenses. If you go the gift card route, try to make sure it’s for something the recipient is likely to want. If you’re not sure, you can “gift” a pre-paid Visa or Master Card, useable for anything at any store.

Also, if you are thinking past merely giving someone a gift, a reloadable Visa or Master Card might be an effective way to help a younger person in your life “manage” their money more effectively. Cards like this can be also be used by parents to help provide subsidy budgets when and if needed for school, transportation expenses or actual gifts.

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This article was written by a professional financial journalist for Pacific Crest Financial Advisors, LLC and is not intended as legal or investment advice.

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