Americans expect to spend an average of $248 on gift cards during the upcoming holiday season, an increase from $223 in 2004 and $183 in 2003. A new survey shows that 70% have either purchased or received a gift card and of the 30% who have not, one-quarter say they are likely to make a first purchase this holiday season. The annual survey, conducted by Stored Value Systems, also found that on average the number of cards purchased in the past year has increased from 4.5 to 6.5. The average value of gift cards purchased in the past year is $40, a fairly steady level for the past three years. Additionally, among those who have received gift cards, almost three-quarters use their cards up completely. More than 80% discard it when its value is depleted. One-third of gift card recipients redeem the entire value of the card within one month of receipt. All but about 6% have redeemed it after one year. Louisville-based Stored Value Systems introduced the first-ever magnetic-striped retail gift card in 1995.