Choice has recommended gift cards from Bunnings, Coles Group & Myer and Wish (Woolworths group) after finding that more than one in two of its members surveyed had a gift card expire before using its full value.

The survey conducted by the University of Melbourne and Cardlimbo found about 20 per cent of gift card recipients would not usually shop at their card’s stores and many let those cards expire unused.

"Gift cards can be a handy way to give a present but always check the terms and conditions carefully and beware short expiry dates and how stores handle lost and stolen cards," Ingrid Just, Choice spokesperson, said.

Choice looked at 15 gift cards from major retailers and found only one – from Bunnings – didn’t have an expiry date. The rest were only valid between six months to two years. David Jones and JB Hi-Fi, however, say they will honour or exchange expired cards.

The Coles Group & Myer and Wish gift cards allow consumers to buy everyday items from a number of stores which minimises the risk of the cards expiring before use.

“Choice thinks there’s no good reason why gift cards cannot have much longer lives or no expiry at all. Consumers may have a responsibility to use them before they lose them but the industry counts on the fact many will not do so,” Just said.

In the US, new consumer protection laws need gift cards to have a life of at least five years.