$1.7 billion in gift cards will go unspent

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Roughly 85% of all gift-givers were expected to include gift cards as part of their holiday giving this year.   

New rules restrict expiration dates and fees on those cards, making it easier for recipients to spend all of the money on those gift cards.  

More than $110  billion worth of gift cards were expected to be sold in 2012.    Open-loop gift cards that could be spent anywhere make up the largest group of those cards, with about $40 billion such cards being bought.  Merchant cards make up about $36 billion and restaurant gift cards about $19 billion.

About three-quarters of consumers will spend every penny they receive in gift cards.

Despite improvements to gift card rules, experts estimate about $1.7 billion worth of gift cards will go unredeemed this year.

That number is actually an improvement over past years, when at least ten percent of gift  cards went unused every year.   

Extra effort is needed to protect gift cards from fraud, though.  Unlike credit or debit cards, the liability for fraudulent use of a lost or stolen gift card falls to the card holder and not to the merchant or bank that issues the card.