Do Gift Cards Expire? The Guide to Spending Every Cent on Your Gift Cards

We all know the story. You get a cool gift card for your birthday, set it in your wallet or in a drawer, and completely forget about it. This is all too common! Fortunately, few gift cards actually expire, so if you ever find it you can spend it right away. In this article, we will discuss what gift cards expire, their expiration dates, and which ones you can keep forever. 

Earn Cash Back On Gift Cards with Gift Card Granny

As a quick reminder, we’ve pointed out all of the retailers on this list that you can find on Gift Card Granny as of this writing. Gift Card Granny makes it easy to buy and send customized gift cards online and earn cash back while you do. Gift Card Granny carries thousands of local and national brands, including Visa gift cards, Mastercard gift cards, and gift cards for many of the awesome spots on this list.

Text eGift Cards on GiftYa

Another popular gift-giving site is GiftYa, which also offers customizable eGift cards! GiftYa lets you add custom photos or videos to all your gifts in the form of a virtual gift wrapper. A GiftYa can be sent by text or email, so the gift is always delivered within minutes. You can also schedule the gift to be sent on a specific date, such as a birthday or holiday. 

Gift cards make amazing gifts! Since gift cards don’t expire, the recipient doesn’t have to worry about spending it hastily. They can wait for the perfect time to spend your gift card. 

How Long Are Gift Cards Good For?

Gift cards are good for at least five years. Most US gift cards, however, never expire! That means you can use any gift card you find when you are deep cleaning your place and come across a forgotten gift card. When you find a Subway gift card from a long-ago birthday gift deep in your junk drawer, you can surely pick up a hoagie the next time you are out and about. 

Most single-retailer gift cards have no expiration date, but prepaid cards like Visa and Mastercard often have pieces in place that mean you cannot keep them indefinitely. While those are the exceptions, you can find specific information on a retailer’s website. Most have a gift card section in their FAQ with something like “Do gift cards expire?” as one of their questions. 

Visa and Mastercard Gift Cards

One big difference is with Visa and Mastercard prepaid gift cards. While these two gift cards are quite similar, there is a difference between Visa gift cards and Mastercard gift cards in terms of their expiration. Visa gift cards expire seven years after they are issued, and Mastercard gift cards are available until the balance on the card is $0. Due to inactivity fees, however, it is rare that cards last for much longer than a year after they are received. 

Inactivity Fees

Both Mastercard and Visa prepaid gift cards have various fees associated with their use. Prepaid gift cards have an activation fee of only a few dollars, but it does add up if you buy a lot. 

On top of the activation fee, both cards have dormancy fees that kick in after one year of inactivity. This rarely comes into play, as most people who have had a prepaid gift card for over a year have misplaced it or aren’t going to use it. 

Gift cards make fantastic birthday presents! Is there anyone in your life for whom you struggle to find the right gift? Try a gift card!

How to Spend Old Gift Cards

Since gift cards last so long, we wanted to talk about how you can spend old gift cards you may find. While yes, you can just go and spend them, the fact that there are so many unused gift cards in so many households shows that we need a bit more of a push every now and again! 

This section will cover fun ways to spend old gift cards.

Take Special Trips to Local Retailers

There is a common fallacy with gift card use where people put a gift card into their wallet or purse and think they will spend it with haste. Sometimes they even go to that retailer and pay without remembering to bring out their old gift card! 

We are generally not accustomed to using gift cards in our day-to-day life, making it much easier to forget that you have one when driving past the retailer. To use old gift cards, we recommend making special trips to splurge on something fun, even if the gift card is almost used up. 

Try to plan a night out if you have a gift card to a restaurant. It could be with friends and family, solo, or a takeout night. Going out to dinner is an excellent way to make a weekend special. Sometimes it feels like there are innumerable great restaurants in your area, making it difficult to choose the right one for the occasion. That’s where your gift cards come in! If you have a restaurant gift card lying around it can be the perfect decision-maker for where you go out to eat next. 

Even if it is not a place you would think to go, using your gift card as a reason to go there is a fun way to make a memory. Imagine, if you will, a friday night outing to a local fast food chain where you sit down with a few buds and eat a meal as if you were at a five-star restaurant. Or, perhaps, you order takeout from a restaurant in town and enjoy a movie night at your place. 

Your gift card might not cover the whole meal, but it is the experience that counts. Make special trips out of your old gift cards to ensure you use them up while doing something fun! 

Shop Online

Online shopping is a spectacular way to use old gift cards. One of the big roadblocks to gift card usage is being in the position where you can actually use it. This makes it hard for people to use gift cards if they don’t travel around their hometown that often or if there is not a retailer nearby where they can spend the gift card.

Online shopping makes it much easier! Spending gift cards online is very easy and a great way to use every cent on your card. You can input the gift card number in the payment portal and your gift card balance is automatically subtracted from your total order. Any retailer that has an online portal opens up the door for you to use your old gift cards by shopping online. 

Trade-In Old Gift Cards

The last way to use old gift cards is to trade them in. There are multiple reputable websites that allow users to sell old gift cards in exchange for money or more desirable gift cards. We only recommend this as a last resort, because we believe that many gift cards can be spent in a way that’s fun for the recipient! 

One area where we see a lot of gift cards going unused is when the gift card is for a luxury product or experience, like an expensive clothing store or restaurant. In these cases, the gift card is usually not able to cover a significant part of the expected balance, meaning you’d still need to pay a hefty bill at the end of the night. That is not for everyone! Gift cards for luxury restaurants are a great gift for people who would dine there regardless. If you have an old gift card and you know you won’t get good use out of it you can trade it in to recoup a percentage of the value. 

There are lots of fun ways to spend your old gift cards. Pick out the one that’s best for you, and go spend it! 

Where to Buy Gift Cards

There are a lot of great places to pick up gift cards for yourself and for friends. Gift cards are a versatile gift, and with so many retailers, there is certainly something for everyone. You can browse Gift Card Granny to find retailers across all sectors and pick out the perfect gift card for the recipient. 

In-Store Shopping

There are many gift cards in stores across the United States. Many convenience stores, grocery stores, and gas stations have a section that’s filled with gift cards. This is a nice way to pick up gift cards if you are already in the area, but you can never be certain that the store has the gift card you need, making these less reliable sources of gift cards than some places online. 

Online Shopping

There are many places online where you can pick up gift cards, including Gift Card Granny. Gift Card Granny offers cashback on all gift card purchases, making it a fantastic place to pick up gift cards for any occasion. Buying gift cards online comes with the added bonus that you can purchase physical or virtual gift cards. 

Virtual gift cards are an excellent and easy way to ensure you don’t misplace the gift card! You can add virtual gift cards to your cell phone’s virtual wallet, ensuring you never forget about them in the future. Virtual cards are especially nice for retailers that don’t have any physical locations, like Amazon, Uber Eats (and other delivery services), and Etsy. 

Gift cards are an excellent addition to other gifts. If you want to round out your gift for someone special, consider adding a gift card to one of their favorite places! 

All you need to know about how long you can use gift cards

Gift cards are an excellent gift because they never expire. Well, almost never! Prepaid Visa and Mastercard gift cards have inactivity fees that will eventually reduce their balance to zero dollars. Gift cards to US retailers, however, almost never have expiration dates attached to them. So, make sure to keep a keen eye out for forgotten gift cards the next time you do a deep clean of your residence! Finding an old gift card is an exciting way to plan a special trip to a retailer in the near future. 

How Long Are Gift Cards Good For?

How can you tell if a gift card has expired?

If your gift card expires, it will be somewhere on the card itself. If you are concerned that your gift card has expired, check the back to find the expiration date. 

What gift cards do not expire?

The great majority of gift cards from US retailers do not expire. Check the card for an expiration date. If you don’t find one, it is likely there is no expiration. 

Can prepaid gift cards expire?

Technically, yes. Gift cards expire seven years after they are issued, and Mastercard gift cards are available until the balance on the card is $0. Due to inactivity fees, however, prepaid gift cards will eventually expire. After one year of inactivity, prepaid gift cards will incur inactivity fees, which will slowly lower the balance of the card until it is empty. 

Do Walmart gift cards expire?

Walmart gift cards do not expire. 

Do Visa gift cards expire?

Yes!  Visa gift cards expire seven years after they are issued. Due to inactivity fees, however, it is rare that cards last for all those seven years. 

Prepaid Visa gift cards have dormancy fees that kick in after one year of inactivity. After that time period, the gift card will get charged a few dollars each month until it is used again or the balance hits zero.