Gift cards are good for at least five years, thanks to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. And retailer-based gift cards often charge no fees, says Hillary Mendelsohn, author of "thepurplebook" series of shopping guides and founder of thepurplebook.com.
So, you might be able to hang onto the card until you need it.
If it's a retailer gift card, you also might be able to return it to the store for cash, says Kathy Grannis, media relations director with the National Retail Federation.
"Some retailers even have a policy that the gift card can be refunded if the buyer can bring the receipt to the store," she says. "And some retailers will provide a refund (to cardholders), if there's a receipt."
By returning the card, you'll get 100 percent of its value. You won't pay any fees or have to find another card that you want instead. Best of all, you can use that money to treat yourself to something you really want.
The downside: Unless the giver also tucks the receipt in with the card, (or the store doesn't require one), your gift giver will know something's up when you ask for the gift card receipt.