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When does your gift card expire? Six million Brits leave it too late

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If you’ve got a gift card lying around at home, check its expiry date as soon as possible to avoid losing out.

More than six million Brits have lost money on gift cards due to short expiry dates or companies going bust, according to research.

The survey from GoCompare Money found 62% of UK adults have received a gift card as a present, while 49% have gifted one in the past.

But one in 10 people have lost the value of their present because they forgot to use it, while 3% didn’t know their gift cards had a use-by date.

Following the recent succession of high-street retailers going bust, including Toys R Us and Maplin, 7% of those surveyed said they will not be buying any gift cards this Christmas. Some 4% said they’d been left with worthless gift cards after a retailer went out of business.

Can I use a gift card if a company goes into administration?

Gift cards are not protected when a company goes bust and it’s up to the administrator whether they continue to accept them.

Gift cards are categorised as debt owed by the company, so holders are treated as creditors. However, business creditors, such as banks, take priority over individual creditors, so there’s no guarantee gift card holders will receive anything.

Should I give gift cards this Christmas?

There is now a huge range of online high street retailers and restaurant chains offering gift cards. But giving money may be just as good.

“While it does mean you can tailor the gift card to the individual, while looking like you’ve still given it a bit of thought, cash in an envelope might well end up being the better present,” said Matt Sanders, spokesperson for GoCompare.

“There are no restrictions on where it can be spent, it doesn’t lose its value if a company goes out of business and it can always be saved for a rainy day.”

If you still want to give gift cards…

One option is to buy a gift card accepted by a range of retailers, such as a National Book Token or a National Garden Gift Voucher. Or you could buy a shopping centre gift card which can be used in all of the centre’s shops and restaurants.

Sanders’ advice is to make sure the recipient knows the value and use-by date of the card.

“The simplest way to do this is to enclose the receipt along with the gift card. This will show how much is on the card and when it was bought.”

How long do I have to use my gift card?

Here’s a list of expiry dates for some of the most popular gift cards:

John Lewis: 24 months (but paper vouchers issued through its Gift List service have no expiry date)

Amazon: 10 years

M&S: 24 months

ASOS: 24 months

Selfridges: No expiry date

Apple: No expiry date

Argos/Sainsbury’s/Habitat: 24 months

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