According to Deloitte & Touche, between 2 and 10% of gift card dollars go unspent. What happens to that money is a topic of much debate.

About half of states think they should get at least some of the cash under unclaimed-property laws. Of course companies would like to keep the money to give their profits a boost (Revenue that carries no expenses can improve margins nicely!).

I don't know enough about the legality of all this to offer an opinion but here's my idea: What if the unspent portion of gift cards were donated to children's charities like Toys for Tots to provide presents for kids less fortunate than those gift recipients who didn't get around to spending it.

That way, the companies could still book normal profits on the cards -- just as though they'd been used by the intended recipients -- and people who receive gift cards they don't want could just let them lapse, knowing it would go to a good cause.

Sound like a good idea? Too bad it'll never happen.

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