by Carla Lake | December 30, 2013 12:06 pm
The holidays have come and gone, and in all likelihood, they left you with a stack of gift cards you don’t want.
According to Giftcard Giver, 10%-15% of all gift cards go unused each year. The giver’s intentions were probably good, but what in the world are you supposed to do with a Home Depot (HD) gift card if you’re terrible at fixing things, or an AMC Entertainment (AMC) gift card when the movie theater near you is run by Regal Entertainment (RGC)?
Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives, from getting cash for gift cards to donating them to charity.
Regifting is the simplest solution — just tuck the gift cards away somewhere you won’t lose them, and you’re all set for the next birthday or holiday. Just make sure to remove any personalized cards or messages, and avoid giving it back to the same person!
In recent years, several new companies have cropped up to solve the unwanted gift card problem. If you don’t mind a little bit of the profit shaved off the top from these middlemen, they’re a convenient way to get some value out of something you weren’t going to use anyway.
Here are some of your options:
Cardpool: Want cold, hard cash for your gift cards? Depending on the gift card vendor, you can receive anywhere from 30% to 92% of the card’s value sent to you as a check in the mail, or you can receive 5% more (for a maximum of 97%) if you choose to receive the card’s value as Amazon (AMZN) credit. You can sell your card electronically or mail it with a prepaid label.
Giftcard Granny: Giftcard Granny isn’t just a card resale site — it has lots of other useful features, like a directory of links to check your gift card balance for any store, and a price compare chart to check which gift card resaler will give you the best deal for your unwanted cards. If you’re selling cards, they offer up to 93% cash for gift cards.
Ebay (EBAY), of course, is also an option, but then you have to deal with all of the packing and mailing yourself. Since consumers are looking to get a deal, you’re unlikely to get the full value of your card here either.
Plastic Jungle is a site that specializes in gift card swaps, partnering with different retailers so you can trade a gift ncard you don’t want for one you do. However, the list of retailers is very small, so you might want to just sell your gift card through one of the sites listed in the section above, and then buy a discounted gift card you do want. Since the buyback percentage is generally greater than the discount on buying a gift card, you might even be able to get a few!
Does your favorite cause need supplies? Many nonprofit organizations, from schools to animal shelters, accept gift cards as a donation to pay for needed items. You can also send to Giftcard Giver, a sort of crowdsourcing organization that collects unused and partly used gift cards for charitable causes.
Do you have $2.15 left on one — or several — gift cards that you know you’re never going to close out? Well, in some states you can get cash for gift cards if the remaining balance is under a certain amount — usually a couple dollars or 10% of the card’s original value.
Plastic Jungle offers one of the most unique uses for unwanted gift cards — exchanging them electronically for United Airlines (UAL) miles. However, you must be a Mileage Plus member with United, and the gift card must be $15 or more.
So there you have it — six ways to get some value out of a gift card you wouldn’t have used otherwise. The downside is that you’re unlikely to receive the full amount of the original gift card’s worth. Still, it’s better than nothing, and you could get some good karma if you decide to donate your unwanted gift cards to a good cause.
As of this writing, Carla Lake did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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