Reloadable prepaid cards / giftcards.com
Twenty years ago, when I clocked 40, my mother gave me a cheque for R1 000 as a birthday present. I never cashed the cheque because the sentimental value of hanging on to that piece of paper was worth more to me than the pleasure I would have gotten from spending it on my bribes of choice.1
We don’t use cheques anymore. The modern equivalent of giving money without giving cash is a gift card. More than half of US consumers bought one over the holiday season, spending close to $100 billion in the process.2 (That’s R1,55 trillion at today’s rates — compare with South Africa’s 2021 national budget revenue of R1,52 trillion.)
I got several gift cards for my 60th birthday — some of them from specific stores, some of them for specific shopping malls — and it took me a while to work my way through all of them because I kept forgetting they were in my wallet.
I’m not alone. It turns out that in the US market, around 3% of gift cards never get used.
Yes, that’s around $3 billion in gift cards that never gets cashed in, and that’s just the US market.
If you have received one of these recently, maybe make a New Year resolution to use it?
- 1. Parma ham, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Islay single malt whisky
- 2. 6th Annual U.S. Open Loop Prepaid Cards Market Forecast, 2019–2023