If you have unused gift cards lying around collecting dust, don’t let them go to waste. The gift card industry is worth an estimated $60 billion, and experts say that at least 10% to 15% of gift cards are not redeemed. That’s $6 to $9 billion dollars that consumers never use.
The retailers are counting on this, since unused gift cards equate to company profits. However, unused gift cards don’t have to go to waste. There are several websites, including eBay, where gift cards are being traded, and even sold, for cash.
What to Do with Unwanted Gift Cards
1. Put Them Up for Auction
Unused gift cards can be sold online. If you want cash for your gift cards, try listing them on eBay. Other sites such as Cardpool and Plastic Jungle also let sellers auction their unwanted or unused gift cards. Shoppers flock to eBay around the holidays, so try selling unwanted gift cards online in November and December to get the best return on the cards. If your name is on any of the gift cards, check to make sure they are transferable before listing them for sale.
2. Trade Your Gift Cards
In addition to auctioning cards, there are a number gift card exchange websites:
- ABC Gift Cards allows users to buy, sell, or trade gift cards. They claim to be the largest secondary market for gift cards.
- Card Avenue has a very extensive inventory of cards for sale. Navigating the site is easy. If you want to trade a card, create a “wish list” of gift cards you would consider in exchange for your gift card. For example, if you have a $50 Pottery Barn card, but you would much rather have a $50 Victoria’s Secret or Macy’s card, then include those cards in your wish list. Other traders will browse the site, and if they have a Macy’s or Victoria’s Secret card and want your Pottery Barn gift card, you might be able to make the trade. The site receives a commission from the traders.
- Cardnap allows users to buy and sell a variety of popular gift cards.
- Cardpool features free shipping, and a 100-day guarantee, to ensure the gift cards are legitimate.
- CardsUWant is an auction site that lets sellers buy, sell, and trade gift cards. They collect a 5% fee, which is less than eBay.
- CardWoo is another service that buys and sells gift cards. They pay all shipping costs, but require that gift cards have a minimum $20 value.
- Cash4GiftCards.com buys gift cards for 75% of their value. They sometimes buy expired cards, for 25% of their pre-expiration value. GiftCardBin provides an initial offer on sellers’ gift cards, based on the retailer, value, and expiration date. If you don’t like their offer, you can make a counter offer.
- GiftCardGranny is another gift card buying and selling site. The site allows users to sign up for alerts and receive notification when cards from their favorite stores have been listed for sale.
- GiftCardRescue allows users to buy, sell, and exchange gift cards. This website offers an additional 5% over the redemption value if the card is exchanged for an Amazon gift card instead of cash. They also offer bankruptcy protection in the event that the retailer no longer accepts the gift cards.
- Plastic Jungle buys unwanted gift cards and will pay up to 92% of the face value of the card. Users have to enter gift card information on the site, and then Plastic Jungle makes an offer for the card. Sellers receive pre-paid shipping labels to mail gift cards to the website. Once the balance of the gift card is verified, the website pays for the gift card with a check or PayPal.
Obtain quotes from each of the websites to determine which site offers the best deal for the gift cards you want to sell or exchange. Make sure to read the websites’ terms and conditions, and learn more about their guarantees, transaction fees, and shipping policies. Gift card exchange websites are an excellent way to sell or trade gift cards from major retailers. If the gift card is for a small, local business, try selling or trading the gift card on Craigslist or eBay Classifieds instead.
Some people feel it is not very tactful to “regift” a gift card. If you decide to go this route, however, make sure the card and the gift card envelope don’t show any signs of wear. It may be possible to obtain a new gift envelope from the original retailer. You can also add the regifted card to another gift. Stash the card inside of a new book for a creative bookmark, or attach the card to a stuffed animal.
A partially used gift card is a terrible candidate when it comes to regifting etiquette. If at all possible, try to avoid awkward situations by regifting a card from a friend to a relative or coworker who doesn’t know the friend.
4. Give to Charity
Making a charitable donation can be a good use of a gift card. The advantages include the convenience, the tax write-off, and the opportunity to donate to a worthy cause. To make a charitable donation, find a non-profit organization that can best utilize the card. For example, a food bank may not have use for a gift card from a high-end clothing retailer, but an organization that assists people in preparing for job interviews may be able to use the card.
Large non-profits have the donations contact information listed on their website. Email the contact, describing the gift card and its value. In return for the donation, the organization will supply you with a letter acknowledging your gift. The letter should be on their stationery, indicating the date it was received, the value of the gift, and their tax ID number. Keep this for your records, so you can take the tax deduction for charitable contributions.
5. Redeem for Cash
Some states require that gift card issuers allow cardholders to redeem their gift cards for cash. California law states that consumers can receive cash from the issuing retailer if a gift card has $10 or less remaining on the card. In Maine, Massachusetts, and Montana, cards with a value of $5 or less can be exchanged for cash. In Vermont, cards valued at less than $1 can be redeemed for cash. Investigate to determine if a cash exchange is an option.
Don’t let your unwanted gift cards sit around collecting dust. Make them work for you instead. If your Great Aunt Sue gave you a $100 Starbucks gift card and you don’t drink coffee, trade the card for a shop you do visit, or trade the card for cash. If you use Plastic Jungle to sell your $100 Starbucks gift card, they may pay you up to $92.00 for the card.
Do you have a favorite website for buying, selling or exchanging gift cards? What do you typically do with your unwanted gift cards?