What to Do With Unwanted Gift Cards

The holidays are over.  You are probably left with some good memories and some unwanted gifts.  If you are stuck with gift cards that you don’t plan to use, there are options beyond simply throwing the card away or sticking it in your wallet until you forget about it.

Unwanted gift cards can be re-gifted or traded or sold on a number of web sites that are especially designed for people just like you who don’t want to use their gift card but want to get something out of the gift.

Re-gifting cards is the obvious, easiest choice.  You can visit the store and obtain a new holder for the gift card so that you can enter the new receiver’s name and the amount.  Most cards are good for a year or more.  Some stores apply a penalty for unused gift cards, so re-gifting only works if you can give the card to someone else quickly.  Also, you can add money to gift cards.  Really savvy shoppers can wait for sales and use the gift card to actually buy gifts for others.  This semi-re-gifting can be a good money-saving option.

You could sell your gift card on eBay.  However, the site will take a percentage of the sale, meaning that you will only get a percentage of the cards worth.  If you choose to auction the card, you might not receive the whole value in the first place.

Specialty card trading or selling sites are a better option.

Carpool, Plastic Jungle and GiftCards.com offer to buy unused cards at rate that ranges from 70% to 95% of the card’s total value.  If you have cards for in-demand stores with a broad range of products, the final amount paid by these sites will be higher.  A Target gift card or a Best Buy gift card will sell for more than a card to a brand name store like Gap or Banana Republic or a specialty store like Famous Footwear.  However, if you factor in fees and headache of offering a card up for auction on eBay, the profit that you make by selling on one of these sites is quite agreeable.  This seems to be a growing market, with other major sites like Cardwoo stepping into the game as well.

Some card buyers have brick and mortar stores as well.  Swap-a-Gift has agents at locations around the country who offer cash on the spot for gift cards.  Again, the cash will not be 100% of the value of the card, but it will be cash in your pocket.  Most of these agents are located at check cashing services or money wiring offices.

A risky option could be to actually use your gift card to make a purchase and then try to return the purchase for cash. No retail outlets will actually give you cash for your gift card, but some, depending on their policy, will give you cash or a check for a returned item.  It is most likely, however, that they will give you store credit or put the balance back on your gift card (or issue you a new gift card if the old one was thrown away).  So you wont loose money (unless there is some sort of restocking fee), but you will loose time if you go this route.

What about helping your tax returns?  Depending on the store, you might be able to buy something that can be written off on your taxes.  You can declare many items that can be used for work or school.  The IRS has pretty strict rules, so it is probably a good idea to get something that you will actually use, but if you do, you can write it off as a business expense even though you are not using your own funds.

Nicole has been blogging for 3 years about a wide range of topics ranging from online faxing services to best places online to find t shirts.

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