Experts Explain How to Sell Unused Gift Cards (and Get What You Actually Want)

Amazon Gift Card
Courtesy of Amazon

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Once the holidays or birthdays have come and gone, we may discover that we have gotten a lot of gifts for which we have no use.

We know, it’s the thought that counts, and it’s always nice when someone thinks of us. However, at the end of the day, if we have a closet full of gifts we have no use for, we may be looking for a way to pass those gifts on to someone new. While returning gifts or regifting gifts is always an option, things get a bit more complicated with how to use unwanted gift cards.

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Maybe you were given a gift card to a sporting goods store, and you are not into sports. Or perhaps you were given a gift card to an online butcher and are a strict vegan. Those gift cards do not have to go to waste. They can be exchanged or sold relatively easily.

Studies have shown that 6% of gift cards never get used. Based on data collected by SaveMyCent, that mere 6% equals over $17.7 billion globally a year. That’s throwing away a lot of hard-earned money. Someone spent their money to buy it for you, and now that money is just sitting untapped. That’s why if you aren’t going to use those gift cards, the best option is to sell them.

Selling unused gift cards used to require a whole lot of fancy footwork, but now, tons of websites are devoted to just that service. They are surprisingly simple to use and fast to see results.

Some quick things to keep in mind:

  • Selling your gift cards is easy. There’s a whole market online of options, from exchanges and bartering to straightforward, beautiful cash.
  • Accessibility of cash. Money means nothing if we can’t get to it and get to it quickly. Look for services where money can be directly deposited somehow or available quickly via options like Venmo or PayPal.
  • Avoid scammers. People are always trying to get something for free or take something from you. Don’t send someone your card or give away any identifiable information until you have that money.

Raise, GiftCash and CardCash are some examples of websites where you can sell gift cards for cash. While the percentage of the card’s value that you will get back on a card will depend on demand, there are many great options with surprisingly good rewards.

  

Set Realistic Goals

Before you get started, try to factor in how you want to be paid. “Earn the highest resale value before you impulsively choose a site to sell your unused gift card,” says Anthony Martin, CEO and founder of Choice Mutual. While you may not be getting use out of your card right now, giving it away for far less than its worth doesn’t benefit you either. Do your research and see what you can get, and it’ll help you manage your expectations.

Some companies, such as Raise, will allow you to freely list your card at 95% of the gift card’s value and come with more flexible payment options. However: “The downside is that you could be left with less than expected when they claim 15% commission or charge 1% (or $2.75) for shipping physical cards,” says Martin.

Flexible payment options are a great feature on some sites but proceed with caution. They often involve fees deducted, which means even less of the card’s value is going back to you.

  

Sell or Exchange Your Gift Card Online

Selling or exchanging your unwanted gift card is the best option for getting the ultimate value out of the card without actually using the card. “You can choose from a variety of different websites like OfferUp depending upon the card balance and how quickly you need the money,” says Jonathan Svensson, the co-founder of Almvest, a financial education website.

The safest and easiest way to sell your unwanted gift cards is online through a gift card reseller service.

“[Gift card resellers] buy a card from you and sell it to another consumer, while, of course, taking a small cut of the deal,” says John Li, financial expert and co-founder and CTO of the lending company Fig Loans. Remember that that cut comes out of your pocket as the seller, though you’re likely to get over 90% cashback for the most usable cards, like Walmart. “Cards that are harder to sell, like a specialty retailer that only operates in certain regions, will get you much less, as low as 50% of the original value,” Li says.

You’ll also want to use a service that’s reputable and has been around for a long time. If the company claims bankruptcy before you get your payment, you may be out of luck. “Gift cards are often a target of fraudsters, so be aware and read reviews for any service you’re considering,” Li adds.

eBay is another excellent option if you need some quick cash. “This also gives your gift card a chance to go viral and get you more interested buyers than selling locally,” adds Svensson. Many sites allow you to exchange gift cards for cash or trade them for a different gift card that you’re more likely to use. Others convert your gift card into discounts.

Some sites to consider: cardcash.com, giftdeals.com, and giftcardgranny.com.

Perhaps you do love the idea of a gift card, but you would rather exchange a gift card for one you are more likely to use. This option is excellent if you have cards with small balances or looking to receive store credit rather than cash. “Most websites like Raise will ask you to select the specific brand and/or retailer, so be sure to check out their guidelines before posting your listing,” says Svensson.

  

Leverage Social Media

Social media can be a godsend in selling goods and services. Post your gift card offer in Facebook groups designed for discount hunters or even on Facebook Marketplace. Chances are, you will find a buyer in no time.

Just be careful. If your gift card features account numbers and PINs, and you use a photo to promote the card, make sure to properly edit out anything that can allow a user to take relative information without actually purchasing. Just like you wouldn’t want your credit card or passport info out in the world if the gift card has any identifying features, that could be a no-no as well, or, simply, if your pin is out there, someone can steal the gift card before you had the chance to sell.

This example from Instagram is what not to do. But, since it looks like it was posted by someone who is themselves a scammer, they’re probably already aware of that.

Using social media will also let your friends and followers know that you are looking to get rid of a card that could be one they need. Just be careful; if your best friend is all over your Instagram, and you are selling something they gave you, they’ll know. But it can be a good idea to use social media for trading or bartering your cards within your friend or coworker circle. This could be as simple as a card-for-card trade. Perhaps, Starbucks for Apple? (Lucky you.)

Perhaps your best friend is a great handyman and can do something you need doing around the house. Use this opportunity to barter in exchange for an Uber gift card. While this method does not necessarily have cash value, you avoid spending money on the things you are swapping for, so it all works out.

  

Avoid Scammers

Remember that warning about not showing your pin or gift card number online? That was because there are always scammers out there ready and willing to steal your info. Selling a gift card is something you’ll want to do with caution.

“If you decide to use an online reseller, submit the gift card information electronically wherever possible, so you can avoid sending it through the mail,” says David Aylor, founder and CEO of David Aylor Law Offices.

If you must mail the physical card, you should pay extra for a more secure delivery service that includes tracking. “It’s all too easy for someone to lift an envelope that feels like it contains a gift card,” Aylor says. Whether it be a mail employee or someone skimming mailboxes, it happens, which could leave you out hundreds of dollars.

Whichever your delivery method, you’ll want to use a service that has an excellent reputation behind them. “Check the address bar carefully, domain name, social media presence, and look at their profile on the Better Business Bureau,” Aylor adds. If the offer seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Scammers can come in all forms, from people who try to take your card and not pay you to those who offer an exchange and then never do their part. But there’s also the chance of hidden fees for reselling services, so be sure to read all the fine print.

Some things to keep in mind when avoiding scams when reselling gift cards online:

  • Do your research. You’ll want to check out the reviews of the online marketplace or gift card market you are using before buying or selling.
  • Check your balance, STAT. If you exchange a card, check the gift card balance immediately upon receiving it. Avoid being dishonest yourself by confirming the gift card balance of the card you are exchanging or selling, too. Sometimes it’s just an honest mistake, and we do not correctly remember the amount left on a gift card.
  • Don’t give it up too quickly. Never give anyone your gift card’s PIN until the transaction is complete.
  

Regifting or Donating

All of this sounds like a lot of work; we get it. And if you have decided you don’t want to do any of this, there’s still another option that will leave you profiting in its own special way.

You can always just regift that gift card. Sure, you won’t make a profit, but you will save yourself the expense of buying someone another gift! More money in your pocket either way.

Want to feel a bit better about yourself? You can also consider donating that gift card to a worthy cause. Many auctions, events, or charities can put good use to that card you are allowing to gather dust!

  

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