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What goes into a gift card

November 26, 2010, 1:00 PM UTC

How many gift cards are you going to receive this year? And how many are going to gather dust in a drawer? Here’s where all that money goes.

Graphic by Jason Lee

Gift cards may make perfect little stocking stuffers, but they’re a huge business, with estimates putting the total value of merchant-issued cards at as much as $73 billion. Around 10% of sales come from the kiosks you see in supermarkets and drugstores. The companies that distribute them, such as Safeway’s Blackhawk, are the newest players. They take a cut for themselves and their third-party partners. Below, the breakdown of a gift card.