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If you got a gift card for Christmas, don’t forget to use it 

SALT LAKE CITY – If you had a stack of cash in your wallet it would eventually get spent. You can’t say the same about these plastic cards that are loaded with cash.

Financial company Bankrate found that 51% of U.S. adults have unused gift cards. The average person is leaving $116 on the table which adds up to around $15.3 billion nationwide. 

“It’s a big number,” said Bankrate’s Ted Rossman.   

To get the most value from a gift card, you have to use it yourself, or re-gift it so that somebody else can use it.  

There are also a slew of websites and apps that will buy gift cards if you’re willing to take a loss.

“You normally take a little bit of a haircut on the price,” Rossman said. “Maybe you’ll get 80 or 85% of what it’s worth.  

People surveyed said they planned to use their gift cards eventually, but if that happens many will be sad to learn it’s too late. Half of the cards lose value because it has expired, was lost, or the store went out of business Rossman said.  

Some gift cards also have fees slowly draining them down to nothing.  

With millions of Americans pledging to make better financial decisions as a New Year’s Resolution, avoiding letting gift cards go to waste may be a good place to start.  

“My advice is a little homework assignment for all of us: dig through your wallet, your purse, your junk drawer, your glove compartment, wherever these things might be hiding. A lot of us have real money sitting around and we might as well use it,” Rossman said. 

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