Are your gift cards getting dusty?  Now is the time to use them |  CBC Radio

Are your gift cards getting dusty? Now is the time to use them | CBC Radio

Gift cards are being collected for Neil Cooper. After counting, he says he has 19 cards in his house.

“I have no idea how much they cost on any of them,” said Cooper, whose gift card collection ranges from The Keg to Canadian Tire.

“We don’t really go out much. Now my wife might be upset because we could go out more. But we weren’t a couple that went out to dinner a lot.”

Cooper is a busy pediatrician in Calgary who receives gift cards as gifts for Christmas or for interviews related to his work.

And he’s not the only one with a collection of unused gift cards.

Square, a financial technology company that sells mobile payment devices, found that Canadians have more than $33 million worth of unused gift cards through its platform alone.

And like inflation rises and wears away at people’s wallets, these gift cards are becoming less valuable. Of that money tracked by Square, $20 million is in physical gift cards, while another $13 million is in digital gift cards.

This is just part of Neil Cooper’s collection of unused gift cards. (Contributed by Neil Cooper)

Cooper kept his cards in a filing cabinet to keep them organized. But he found himself not thinking about using them.

So he moved them to the car compartment, but many of them are still unused. He even took it a step further with his Tim Hortons gift cards.

“I took all the Tim Horton’s cards out of the dash compartment and put them with Tims reward card with a paper clip on the dash so it would be there,” Cooper said.

Pandemic increase in sales

Wendy Cogan-Toyoda, who works with Square, says the company has collected data on gift card usage from hundreds of thousands of businesses, including retailers, restaurants and other services.

“Customers forget they have these gift cards lying around. Both physical and digital. And it’s real money they’re leaving on the table,” Cogan-Toyoda said.

Toyoda said that during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a surge in purchases of digital gift cards to support businesses when they were closed. It says those gift card sales were up 233 percent in March 2020 compared to the previous year.

“They were held [by] customers to use for themselves at a later time when the store would hopefully reopen. And while many businesses have reopened, we still see a high number of retailers with unclaimed gift card balances.”

There has been a surge in gift card purchases during the pandemic, says Wendy Cogan-Toyoda. (Shannon Martin/CBC)

Cogan-Toyoda says the solution is to inventory your gift card stock and check balances so you can make the most of your extra funds.

And he says businesses can also help by placing QR codes on the back of gift cards that provide information about the remaining balance, the location of the business and whether there is an online store.

He says it’s important for businesses to make sure their customers use those gift cards even if they already have the money.

“You want the customer to come back, because on average your customers will spend that balance,” Cogan-Toyoda said.

“Finally [businesses] you want to see people come through the door and make sure they come back, invite more friends and family, or reload gift cards, buy more gift cards.”

So spend them

Recently, Cooper tried to use one of his gift cards at a restaurant, but when he went to swipe the card, he was told that another company had bought the chain and the gift card was no longer valid.

“I suspect that might be the case with one of them. I know one of those restaurants is no longer here,” Cooper said. “I guess we just won’t use that one.

That’s why Bridget Casey says you shouldn’t let gift cards gather dust.

“Use them as soon as you can,” said Casey, an Edmonton-based financial expert who admits she even has stacks of unused gift cards of her own.

Bridget Casey says you should be more organized with gift cards to save money and spend your gift cards. (CBC)

“I often go to the store with four or five gift cards to check the balance.”

Caset says it’s easy to forget them because we don’t always carry them with us like cash or a credit card. But leaving that money lying around can have consequences.

“Especially right now, when we’re in this high-inflation environment, there’s a good chance that the good or service you want to buy is going to be more expensive in a few months,” Casey said.

“Anytime you get a gift card, try to spend it right away. Like now, I try to keep mine in my wallet so I can actually see it when I open my debit or credit card.” “

But Casey says, don’t just use it for the sake of using it. Then you risk spending on the latest technology or buying something you don’t need. Instead, put a gift card toward things you would do or buy anyway.

“I say spend your gift cards and save your real money.

That’s what Cooper plans to do. He wants to make a hole in his pile of gift cards, starting with restaurants.

“Maybe the wife will be happy on Friday. We’ll see.”

Produced by Jennifer Keene.

#gift #cards #dusty #time #CBC #Radio

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.