If you're like me, you probably got more than a few gift cards for Christmas this year. This year, consumers purchased an estimated $100 billion in gift cards. But how much of that money actually gets spent?

According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly $41 billion in gift cards went unspent from 2005 to 2011. Despite how popular they are with consumers, a large number of these cards either get lost or just simply go unspent. And in some cases, the money that goes unspent will either go back to the company, or to the state's unclaimed monies fund, depending on where you live. Which begs the questions: are gift cards really worth it?

There's no guarantee that the person receiving the gift card will actually use it. And there are those folks who absolutely despise getting gift cards as a present, calling them thoughtless and an easy way out. Personally, I have no problem getting and giving gift cards, though I would prefer getting something a little more personal. My advice is if you're going to get a gift card, just make sure it's for a store you know they'll go to.

What about you? What's your opinion on gift cards: good buy or bad idea?

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