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LOST Christmas: 6.7 million* Brits lose out on gift cards

GoCompare Money urges shoppers to check expiry dates on any gift cards received this Christmas and use them as soon as possible

  • Over a fifth (21%) plan to give gift cards as presents this Christmas;
  • 13% of UK adults have been unable to redeem the value of a gift card;
  • 4% have lost out because the company went bust;
  • Following the recent failure of some high street retailers 7% of people won’t be buying any gift cards this Christmas.

With just three weeks until Christmas and more than a fifth of shoppers preparing to give gift cards as presents this year, new research** reveals that 6.7 million UK adults have lost money on gift cards due to either short expiry dates or companies going bust.

According to research, commissioned by GoCompare Money, 62% of UK adults have received a gift card as a present, while 49% have gifted one in the past.  Just over a fifth (21%) plan to give gift cards this Christmas.

Most gift cards must be redeemed within a set time frame, typically two years from the date of purchase – not from when it was given, but for some, expiry dates can be as short as six months. 

GoCompare Money’s research revealed that one in ten people have lost the value of their present because they forgot to use it before it expired, with 3% saying they were unaware that gift cards have a use-by date.

Following the recent succession of high-street retailers and restaurant chains going into administration, 7% of those surveyed will not be buying any gift cards this Christmas.  A small number of people (4%) said they have been left with worthless gift cards when the card provider went out of business.  

Gift cards are not protected when a company goes bust and it’s at the appointed administrator’s discretion whether they continue to accept them.  Gift cards are categorised as debt owed by the company; therefore, 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.  

Matt Sanders, spokesperson for GoCompare Money commented, “The gift card market has grown rapidly in recent years and there are now cards for a huge range of online and high street retailers, restaurant chains and service providers.  It does mean that if you’re stuck for present ideas, you can tailor the gift card to the individual and look like you’ve still given it a bit of thought. But cash in an envelope might well end up being the better present.  There’re 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 want to give a gift card this Christmas but are worried about the financial stability of a company, you could buy one which is accepted by a wide range of retailers such as a National Book Token or a National Garden Gift Voucher.  Another option would be to consider buy a shopping centre gift card which can be used in all the centre’s shops and restaurants.

“And, don’t forget to make sure the receiver knows the value and use-by date.  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.” 


For further information please contact:

Anders Nilsson or Louisa Marsden at GoCompare on 01633 654 054 / 01633 655 132

Gordon, Jason or Liz at MAW Communications on 01603 505 845

Keep up-to-date with GoCompare on Twitter; @GoCompare

Notes to editors

*Calculation based on the following: 13% of UK adults have lost the value of a gift card or voucher.  There are 51,767,543 UK adults aged 18 and over in the UK (ONS June 2017 – Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). 13% of 51,767,543 is 6,729,780. 

**On 8 November 2018, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,006 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.


GoCompare is a comparison website that enables people to compare the costs and features of a wide variety of insurance policies, financial products and energy tariffs.

GoCompare does not charge people to use its services, and it does not accept advertising or sponsored listings, so all product comparisons are unbiased. GoCompare makes its money through fees paid by the providers of products that appear on its various comparison services when a customer buys through the site.

GoCompare does not sell its customers’ data.

When it launched in 2006, it was the first comparison site to focus on displaying policy details rather than just listing prices, with the aim of helping people to make better-informed decisions when buying their insurance. GoCompare has remained dedicated to helping people choose the most appropriate products rather than just the cheapest, and has teamed up with Defaqto, the independent financial researcher, to integrate additional policy information into a number of its insurance comparison services. This allows people to compare up to an extra 30 features of cover.

GoCompare is the only comparison website to be invited to join the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

For more information visit www.gocompare.com and www.gocomparegroup.com