7 on Your Side: National 'Use Your Gift Card Day' on Saturday

NEW YORK (WABC) -- If you got or gave a gift card this holiday season, there's now a day dedicated to reminding you to use it. National "Use Your Gift Card Day" is Saturday, January 18th.

The new shopping day encourages people to cash in that free money before it goes unused.

Did you know the amount of gift cards purchased last holiday season topped $27.5 billion? There is a good chance some of those gift cards wound up in a drawer or buried in a pocketbook. More than $1 billion in gift cards go unused each year.

In New Jersey, gift cards can never expire. In New York - they may expire after 5 years, so it is important to check expiration dates and fees - just look on the back of the card.

While you have the gift card in your hand - snap a picture of it and the barcode, that way if you don't have the card with you when you end up at Panera or Barnes and Noble, you can just whip out your phone and have the cashier scan it.

If you have a gift card for someplace you don't shop or eat, you can sell or swap it. Websites like Raise, and Cardcash allow you to sell or trade the gift card you got for something you want.

Another great option is donating your unwanted gift card to charity. Non-profits can benefit from versatile gift cards to big box or grocery stores to get items for families in need. Don't forget - it's a tax write-off.

You can also re-gift those gift cards. Most of us are suffering from spending hangovers right now. If you have a friend's birthday or a co-worker retirement coming up, save some money by gifting a card you have sitting around collecting dust, instead of adding to your credit card balance.

National retailers and restaurants and movie theaters have all joined in the 'Use Your Gift Card' campaign to remind consumers to use gift cards by offering perks and discounts to take advantage of on Saturday.

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