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Unwanted Gift Cards
12/29/09 - 05:13 PM
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Jessi Chapin - bio
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click for larger image Panama City, Fla:

Gift cards can be the perfect gift for a picky person, but they can sometimes add up and sit for months, eventually losing credit to stores that may not be your style. 

“From my birthday I got like five or six,” said Panama City shopper Caitlin Fitzpatrick, “and this year I got three or four.”

Fitzpatrick was taking advantage of after-Christmas sales with those gifts.  Others like Gall Stefanie haven’t had as much luck in the past.

“We had forgotten it and went back to use it and money was missing off of it already,” she said. 

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent about $25 billion in gift cards last year, but an estimated $5 billion never hits the stores.

There are ways to cash in that are growing in popularity.  Websites like Plastic Jungle, Gift Card Exchange, and Swap-a-Gift offer ways to trade, donate or sell cards minus a fee.  There’s even a facebook application that lets you create a list of cards you’d like, and the ones you’d like to get rid of.  Some area shoppers say they have other ways to make use of the gifts.

“I just give them away to my mom or family or something,” said Alex Lundgren.

“Re-gift,” said Kris Wilson.

For those who have cards they’re just not ready to use, many retailers are already using new federal guidelines that go into effect in 2010.  The law prohibits expiration dates before 5 years.

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