6 Excuses for Unused Gift Cards

Today I was rolling through the drive through and I found an unused McDonald’s gift card in my wallet  (I never said we would give up fast food completely).  It was silver with a sparkly M so I realized it must be from last Christmas.  Why hadn’t I used it yet this year?

When I got home I looked in my wallet and found:

$ 15.00 – 3 $5 gift certificates to a local burger place
$ 50.00 – 1 gift certificate to a fancy raw restaurant
$ 47.02 – 3 gift cards to Cineplex Odeon
$  6.00 – 1 McDonald’s gift card (approximate balance)
$  5.00 – 1 Grand & Toy gift card (approximate balance)
$ 25.00 – 1 Pier 1 Imports gift card
$  5.00 – 2 Starbucks gift cards
$153.02 – Total

If any of my loved ones end up reading this, I won’t be offended if this year you decide to just write Merry Christmas on a sheet of paper instead of giving me a gift card.

Unused gift cards are popping up for sale on specialty sites and on popular sites like eBay.  So, I can’t be the only one that’s not rushing out to use their gift cards.

It’s not that I’m not a fan or gift cards.  As someone who sticks to a budget, I really do appreciate receiving a gift card.  They allow me to spoil myself without having to justify the cost and they let me choose what I like the best.

So why are these particular gift cards still in my wallet?

1. The Gift Card Amount Was Way Too Generous

See those three $5 local burger joint gift certificates?  Well, we started with 10.  We did our best to burn through $50 at a burger place by upgrading our pops to glass bottles and our fries to onion rings and a poutine, but we fell short.  It was just too much money for us to spend on burgers!

2. The Gift Card Won’t Cover the Full Price

Some gift cards are to help offset the cost of an expensive item or experience.  I would love to try that fancy raw restaurant.  The problem is that while $50 was way too much at the burger joint, it will only go so far for a fancy dinner.  (No, they don’t serve lunch there, we’ve checked)  We would need to get creative to fit the rest of the meal into our budget.

3. The Gift Card Isn’t for Our Usual Spot

I was so impressed when someone thought to get me a gift certificate for office supplies as a gift.  I’m like a kid in a candy store walking through the aisles at Staples.  And that’s the rub.  When I need something that’s only available at a specialty office supply store I usually go to Staples.  I’d need to make a conscious effort to go out of my way to go to the Grand and Toy.  I don’t even know if Grand and Toy still exists, it might have gone out of business…

4. The Gift Card Was For Our Usual Spot

I’d like to say that I’ve been rationing my gift cards throughout the year, but we’ve been to McDonald’s and Starbucks enough that we shouldn’t have a balance left.  But, because visiting these places is part of our normal life, we reach for the VISA, like normal, instead of searching for a gift card.

5. The Gift Card Needs a Babysitter to Use

As parents of a toddler, alone time is something that we really appreciate.  Its wonderful that some of the gift cards were decidedly for some couple alone time.  A movie night out is something that we really enjoy, but it’s trickier to set up now that the Little Miss is around.  We’re lucky to have grandparents in town that will babysit for us, but it’s still an added complication that makes a night in front of the television seem good enough.

6. The Gift Card is for a Luxury

We’ve chosen to live within our means and try to get the best value for our dollar.  So, when I take my gift card and walk into a place like Pier 1 with beautiful, colourful home decor, I need to remember that I’m not spending my own money.  It’s tough for me to take on the challenge of buying something frivolous.  Especially since it’s not something I need and I  might be able to find something similar cheaper elsewhere.


There are many reasons a gift card may not be used right away, even if it was a welcomed gift.

But I should have no excuses for not enjoying a gift someone wants me to enjoy.

Finding over $150 of unused gifts my wallet made me feel like it was Christmas already.  This time around I’m going to try to be a better gift receiver.  I’m challenging myself to use up all of my gift cards before Christmas comes around again.

I’ve already started by visiting the Starbucks after the library kicked me out at closing time.  Next up will be arranging some non-mini dates!

I apologize to everyone for not enjoying your gifts sooner, but I’m working on it!

What About You?

Why do you have unused gift cards in your wallet?

Would you be upset if someone didn’t use the gift card you picked out for them?

Will any of these reasons affect which gift cards you buy this year?

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Written by mom

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