What You Need to Do With Your Gift Cards Right Now


If you’re one of those people who collects gift cards and sometimes forgets about them, there’s a big reason you might want to find them and use them as quickly as possible.

What to Do With Your Gift Cards Right Now

Due to the ongoing economic uncertainty, money expert Clark Howard says, “A lot of businesses flat-out aren’t going to make it.”

That means if you don’t use your gift cards from those companies now, you may lose the money stored on them forever. So your two options are to either spend your gift cards as soon as possible or sell your gift cards.

If you choose the latter, here are three steps you need to take:

3 Steps to Turn Your Gift Cards Into Money

  1. Check the expiration date to make sure it hasn’t passed. If it has, that card usually won’t be honored
  2. If it’s a gift card you’ve used before but it still has some money on it, check the balance
  3. Sell it online at one of these gift card marketplaces

An Exception to Clark’s Gift Card Rule

As you may be aware, Clark is not a fan of gift cards in general. He’d much rather people use cash and avoid all the expiration dates and terms attached to the cards.

But there’s one exception he’s willing to make due to the current economic situation: Buying gift cards to make a difference.

“There are people buying gift cards to try to help businesses stay open, not intending to use the cards for now, but to just push cash toward companies,” Clark says. “I think that’s fine.”

Bottom Line

If you choose to buy gift cards to help local businesses, Clark says that’s your decision — but you should understand the risk to your wallet.

“If you have money that you can spare,” he says, “and if you’re doing it because you want to try to help those companies and you do it with your eyes wide open — knowing that you may well lose the money — I think that’s fine.”

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