Gift cards: Use 'em or lose 'em, study says

gift cards
gift cards

Gift cards are one of the most convenient presents you can give. They're a snap to buy, even easier to wrap and you never have to worry that the recipient will return it because it's the wrong size or color. The down side is that if you stick a gift card in a drawer and forget about it for years, the state can seize those funds as unclaimed property and it's a serious hassle trying to reclaim that money.

According to a new study by CardHub.com, a site that operates a kind of online swap meet for people who want to buy, sell or trade gift cards, the 10 biggest states offer a mixed bag when it comes to dealing with expired or dormant gift cards. All allow funds remaining on gift cards that have expired to be claimed, but the process can be arduous, and some states can claim funds remaining on gift cards after a period of dormancy but before they expire. (So, if you have a card with no expiration date but it's been sitting around for half a decade, your state might have scooped that up.)