Have a Gift Card? You Might Be Able to Claim Money on It.

Good morning. It’s Thursday. Today we’ll look at how unused gift cards add up. We’ll also get details on a new study that found that the share of New York City residents who could not afford basic essentials jumped dramatically in 2022.

Credit…Richard Drew/Associated Press

Do you have any gift cards lying around that you haven’t used?

A lot of us do, according to an audit by the State Comptroller’s Office. It found that there is nearly $40 million in unclaimed balances on gift cards in New York City.

Gift cards are often an 11th-hour solution for despairing giftgivers who have not found the right present for someone on their lists — or who have not bothered to shop at all. Some 58 percent of 1,208 people questioned by CivicScience, a Pittsburgh-based research firm, reported receiving at least one gift card as a holiday present last year.

But a lot of the cards go unused. In the same CivicScience survey, 56 percent of those who had received gift cards said they had either “a few” or “many” on hand.

In New York, Manhattanites seem particularly unhurried about spending their gift cards. Of the $40 million in unclaimed balances, the Comptroller’s Office said that card holders in Manhattan accounted for more than a third, $14.5 million — the most in the state.

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