Freeze the Turkey, Not Your Cash

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and as you prepare to celebrate with loved ones, you might also be getting ready to fork over a bunch of cash for groceries. Between the turkey and all the trimmings (and maybe even hosting out-of-town guests for the week), Thanksgiving expenses can add up quickly. And then there’s Black Friday, too!

Or, you might be preparing to travel to visit loved ones for the holiday. The cost of airfare, gas, dining out with family and friends, and other related expenses can take a toll on your pocketbook as well.

Fortunately, you may have an overlooked source of funds sitting right in your wallet. Unused gift cards from the last holiday season, your birthday, or even company rewards programs can help fund your Thanksgiving festivities—or your Black Friday shopping! Now that’s something to be grateful for.

Let’s take a look at typical holiday weekend spending, then explore how to tap into this unexpected stash of funds for the occasion.

Predictions for Thanksgiving and Black Friday Spending

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Let’s look at some of the typical expenses for retail shopping, Thanksgiving dinner, and travel.

Retail Shopping Trends

In 2022, a record 196.7 million people shopped during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The National Retail Federation reports that 76% of consumers made retail purchases during that weekend, an increase of 5 percentage points.

Online sales alone brought a whopping $9.12 billion in profits—a new record, reports NPR. And online Cyber Monday sales reached $11.3 billion, marking another all-time high. 

“Consumers spent an average of $325.44 on holiday-related purchases over the course of the weekend, up from $301.27 in 2021,” says the National Retail Federation. “Of that amount, most ($229.21) was directed specifically toward gifts.”

This year, those numbers will likely rise even higher—especially when considering inflation. 

Food Purchases

Consumers can expect the cost of their Thanksgiving feast to rise, too. From turkey to all the side dishes and desserts, costs can add up when you’re cooking for a bunch of family and friends. The average cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner was $64.05 in 2022, according to a Farm Bureau survey—an increase of 20% from the previous year. When adding in extras like ham, the total rises to $81.03. And additional purchases like wine and other beverages will bring that total up further.

Travel Expenses

Travel costs for the Thanksgiving holiday are rising as well. “An average domestic round-trip flight during Thanksgiving week will cost $468, up 48 percent from 2021 and 30 percent from pre-pandemic,” reports The Washington Post. Demand for airfare is high during that time, contributing to this spike in prices. Though airlines have slightly lower capacity than they did in 2019, demand has risen above 2019 levels.

So, prepare in advance by cashing in on an unconventional source of funds: unused gift cards. Giving yourself some extra cash from these gift cards will help alleviate any financial strain over the Thanksgiving holiday. And if you’re planning to get a jump start on Christmas shopping, you can use last year’s gift cards to fund your purchases!

Let’s take a look at just how valuable those unused gift cards can be.

An Untapped Source of Funds

Today, 47% of American adults have one or more unused gift cards. “Those gift cards aren’t small change: The average value is $187 per person—a total value of $23 billion nationwide,” says Bankrate. For Millennials, the average is $198 per person, and for Gen Xers, $251. And for adults in the northeast part of the country, the average is an astounding $293.

Unless you have gift cards for specific supermarkets or stores where you want to shop, trade in those unwanted cards for quick cash. You can also trade in prepaid cards, which often go forgotten and unused when they have a smaller remaining balance. You can then bargain shop wherever you choose. If you hang onto those gift cards, you’ll be limited to particular stores—and there’s no telling which ones will have the best Black Friday deals. 

Turning Gift Card Funds into Cash

How to get started? Cash in your unwanted gift cards through Whether they’re partly used or haven’t been used at all, you can quickly receive a cash offer via our app. 

First, find the app on iTunes or Google Play. After downloading the app, simply click “New Transaction” to get started. You’ll then be prompted to scan your card using your phone. After receiving and accepting an offer, you can choose the delivery speed for your cash. You’ll receive a deposit in your bank account within 2–3 business days.

Once this cash hits your bank account,  you’re free to spend it wherever you choose. Like most Americans, you’re probably eyeing products from specific retailers in preparation for this Black Friday—by padding your wallet for the occasion, you can spend your gift card dollars on things you really want! Plus, by trading in unused cards for cash, you’ll avoid losing them or even having the funds stolen, which happens far too often.

This Thanksgiving holiday, stress less about cash by lining up extra funds in advance. Your time with family and friends will feel even more special when you can easily afford everything on your shopping list and serve up a memorable meal. By giving yourself the gift of extra cash, you can relax, enjoy the holiday, and feel grateful for this time with your loved ones!

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