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Here's how much the average American has in unused gift cards

A new survey shows that 47% of Americans are holding onto unused gift cards.

TAMPA, Fla. — Despite high interest rates and inflation, a new survey shows 47% of Americans are holding onto unused gift cards. In fact, it's estimated Americans are holding onto about $23 billion in gift cards.

One big surprise was that a similar survey last year showed that many people who had unused gift cards all said they were planning to use them that year. But that didn't happen, and according to Bankrate senior analyst Tedd Rossman, they've accumulated even more cards they aren't using. 

"I am surprised the number has grown. Right now, the average person with unused gift cards is sitting on $187 and two years ago that was $116. I'm surprised that number has grown because I would have thought high inflation, high interest rates, recession worries. I would have thought all of this would combine to make people more likely to use it," he said.

Rossman says now is the time to make a plan to use those cards. 

"This could fund a nice night out. This could be some fun purchases for you or a gift for somebody on your gift list. If all else fails, go ahead and sell it and get 70 or 80 percent of what it's worth," he added.

Keep in mind that some gift cards do lose value over time. Some of the ones backed by major credit cards like Visa or Mastercard do take fees out each year, so not using it could cost you.

The survey did not ask why people aren't using their gift cards, but Rossman guessed that people tuck them away and often forget about them. 

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