Canadians throwing away money in unused gift cards

UGO survey finds Canadians would embrace a mobile solution to help maximize usage and track gift card spending

TORONTO, Aug. 12, 2015 /CNW/ - Gift cards can be as good as cash – but Canadians aren't valuing them to their full potential, despite the majority who give and receive them each year. The average gift-card-giving Canadian purchases an estimated total of $166 worth of cards per year; while those on the receiving end get an estimated total of $134 annually.

However, a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of UGO Mobile Solutions L.P. (UGO) revealed that many throw away their gift cards before spending their full value. In fact, roughly one-third of all Canadians say they typically leave unspent money on their gift cards, including 47 per cent of young adults.

The survey found that those who misplace their cards estimate they lose an average of $47 each year, while those who stop using their cards before they're maxed-out leave an unspent average of $5 on each card.

"As a nation, we really like the overall ease and flexibility of gift cards – since roughly three-quarters of all Canadians give and receive them each year," said Alec Morley, CEO, UGO Mobile Solutions. "There is obviously a need for a convenient solution that allows consumers to have easy access to any gift card at any time in order to take advantage of their full value – UGO Wallet brings that convenience to Canadians with newly expanded capabilities that go beyond payments and loyalty to include the ability to store, redeem and electronically receive gift cards."

Starting tomorrow, users can store gift cards in their UGO Wallet simply by scanning the card with their smartphone camera. The feature also allows users the option of manually tracking unused money within each card's file, addressing the top two culprits of why 46 percent of Canadians say they may not use gift cards to their full value:  

1) Forgetting how much money is left to spend if the total amount is not used at once (23 per cent), notably among millennials (18 to 34) at 37 per cent; and

2) Forgetting to bring the right card when shopping (15 per cent).

Additional survey findings:

  • A majority (54 per cent) of Canadians say that they would be likely to use gift cards to their fullest value, and sooner than they do now, if they could store all of them on their smartphone and scan them at checkout. Most likely to think this could help them include Albertans (63 per cent), Atlantic Canadians (58 per cent) and – especially – those nationally aged 18 to 34 (79 per cent), including students (83 per cent).
  • One in ten Canadians actually use gift cards as a budgeting tool, to help them manage their spending on a weekly or monthly basis for items like coffee, clothing or groceries, including 16 per cent of young adults.
  • A total of 69 per cent of females and 63 per cent of males aged 18 to 34 were the very least interested in using gift cards as a budgeting tool. That number increases with three-quarters of students (18 to 24) seeing value in using gift cards as a budgeting tool when conveniently stored in an app on their smartphone.
  • Those in BC and Quebec who leave money on their cards tend to leave slightly more ($5) than the national average ($4.50) on their gift cards before they stop using them. In contrast, more than three quarters of those in Quebec (76 percent) say they never leave any money on their cards.


These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between July 9 and 14, 2015 on behalf of UGO Mobile Solutions L.P. For this survey, a sample of 2,024 Canadians from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval.  In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ - 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About UGO Wallet

UGO Wallet is a digital wallet application that brings the power of simplicity to everyday life by combining payment and loyalty cards in one simple and secure application. UGO Wallet offers Canadians an effortless way to shop and participate in loyalty programs, all on their smartphone.

You can use UGO Wallet to make a payment at any merchant who supports contactless payments. You can also use UGO Wallet to get or redeem reward points wherever the merchant has the appropriate technology at point-of-sale. 

SOURCE UGO Mobile Solutions L.P.

For further information: Media Contact: Ray McIlroy, Kaiser Lachance, 647-725-2520 x215,

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