This may be obvious to the smart readers of Scienceblogs, but let me state this just for the purpose of explaining the waste that is gift cards. You might think giving cash as a gift is tacky, but the nice thing about cash is that it doesn’t expire, incur fees, or become impossible to combine with other forms of payment. All those disadvantages are present in gift cards, and according to Consumers Union, those hassles resulted in $8 billion in unused gifts. Best Buy is even counting unused gift cards as a source of revenue: “…in its fiscal 2006 annual report, the retailer Best Buy revealed a $43 million gain from gift cards that were unlikely to be used.” This has resulted in a number of states passing laws to put rules on gift cards. And so, on Black Friday, if you can’t find a gift for your loved one and decide to give money, give cash instead of gift cards.