Billions in gift cards going unused every year - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Billions in gift cards going unused every year

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Tyler, TX (KYTX) -- Throwing away money may sound unthinkable to you, but we do it every year in the form of gift cards as billions go unused. They're popular to ring up.

"We sold a lot. Especially during Christmas," Ashley Higgins, a sales representative at Bridgette's store in Tyler, said.

The gift card industry raked in an estimated 9 billion dollars in 2012, and store employees say for good reason.

"They're just a really great option for people to come in if they don't know exactly what they want, or what someone else is going to want," Higgins said. 

The hardest part may be deciding when to use it and your time could be limited.

"Companies are required to put an expiration date on the card, so make sure there is one on there," Mechele Mills, President of the Better Business Bureau in East Texas, said.

While federal law generally prevents gift cards from expiring within 5 years, state laws do give companies some wiggle room.

"They are allowed to consider the card abandoned if it's not used within a 36-month period, or if it's not used by expiration date," Mills said.

For consumers, Texas law makes issuers clearly state if they are going to charge a fee for every year you don't use the card, lowering its value.

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