Which Australian states waste gift cards the most?

Angus Kidman 19 January 2018 NEWS


Who in their right mind lets almost $100 on a gift card expire?

It's January, so the odds are good that you have a couple of gift cards from Christmas floating around. Let's save ourselves the argument about whether this represents a thoughtless gift. Better to get something you can spend than a hideous piece of kitsch you can't even regift. What I'm thinking about today is whether we actually make use of them.

Research from finder.com.au shows that 14% of us have let funds expire on a gift card in the last two years. The average amount we've let go to waste is $54, according to a survey of 2,005 people. That adds up to $70 million in a year.

However, just how much we waste varies a lot between states. Below you can see the percentage of residents in each state that let a gift card go to waste, and how much they typically abandoned. (There are no figures for the ACT or NT as there weren't enough respondents to collate a valid figure.)

State % who let funds expire Average per person Total per year
NSW 12% $39 $14.3 million
VIC 16% $47 $18.6 million
QLD 13% $94 $23.1 million
SA 13% $40 $3.6 million
WA 13% $52 $6.7 million

Victorians are the most likely to leave funds on a card, with 16% being guilty of that. But Queenslanders fess up to the largest amount of money going to waste, with an average figure of $94.

I suspect these figures are actually underestimates since those numbers represent people who can actually remember they let a card go to waste. Regardless, it's a pity to receive a gift that you can spend on something you like and then not do that. The best approach: make an appointment with yourself to actually use the card. If that's not possible, make sure you note the expiry date and set a calendar reminder a month before the card expires.

Bonus tip: if you're giving gift cards, be cautious before you use your credit card to pay for them – it could cost you more than you expect.

And for more on gift card waste, check out this Seven news story I featured in about the issue earlier in the week:

And if you want even more, here I am on Ten:

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

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