[HOWTO] Cash In Unwanted Gift Cards

Category: Finance

Remember that gift card you got from Aunt Betty for Christmas or your birthday last year? The one for that steakhouse that's 2 hours away? You know you'll never use it. But rather than throw it away, here’s how to convert it, and other unwanted gift cards to cash. Read on for details, and some bonus tips on how to buy gift cards at a discount!

Online Gift Card Exchanges

It's estimated that 10% of all gift cards just sit in a drawer, gathering dust. That's about a BILLION dollars in gift cards that go unused every year. So it should be obvious why stores want to sell gift cards, instead of actual merchandise. If you have a stack of unused or unwanted gift cards, you can trade them or sell them for cold, hard cash.

Several websites act as gift card exchanges, buying unwanted cards for less than the value stored on them and reselling them at higher prices (though still less than stored value). Some sites offer up to 92% of stored value for certain cards, and resell cards for as little as 65% of their stored value.

What you may get for a given card depends on how easily the buyer can resell it. A Walmart gift card has a higher cash value than a card from your local vegan restaurant, or the Rubber Duck Superstore, simply because there are more potential buyers. The discount the buyer figures they will have to give when they sell the card also affects what they can offer for it.

Buy or Sell Gift Cards

A typical gift card sale via a card exchange website goes like this:

  • You type the card issuer’s name (e. g., “Target”) and the amount stored on it into an online calculator, and get an offer.

  • If you like the offer, you may be able to enter the card’s serial number and PIN to submit it electronically. Otherwise, you’ll have to mail the physical card to the buyer.

  • After verifying the legitimacy of the card and the amount stored on it, the buyer sends payment to you.

Each card exchange has its own wrinkles on the basic process. Cardpool.com lets you sell your may brands of gift cards electronically. Enter the card info, and you’ll get an offer of “up to 88% of the gift card's value.” You have the option to get an ACH transfer deposited to your bank account, an Amazon eGift Card, or a Walmart eGift Card, delivered to you via text message.

Cardpool accepts gift cards from Applebee’s, Best Buy, Domino’s Pizza, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Old Navy, Red Lobster, Target, Walmart, and quite a few other stores.

Buy or Sell?

It's great to trade in your unwanted gift cards for cash. But you can also save money by purchasing a discounted gift card. Let's say you plan to buy something. Cardpool currently offers gift cards from major retailers that can save you up to 5% at Best Buy, 6% at Bed Bath and Beyond, 7% at Foot Locker, 10% at Kohl’s, or 16% at Chili's restaurants. There are plenty of others, but the biggest discount I found on the site was for 20% at Applebee’s. The larger discounts typically require the purchase of higher-dollar cards.

It pays to shop around for the best rate on the card(s) you want to buy or sell. It also pays to do some due diligence on a card exchange before handing over your cards. CardCash is another site you can check out before deciding where to sell a gift card for cash, or buy one at a discount. CardCash promises to sell your unwanted gift cards for “up to 92% cash back.” They buy cards from Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, CVS, eBay, Home Depot, Kohl’s Lowes, Starbucks and others. On the buy side, I saw a 42.56% discount on a Tony Roma’s restaurant gift card, and dozens others discounted at 20% or more. You can get $5 off your first order of $25 or more.

CardCash also has options for bulk buyers and sellers, offering lower rates than the standard rates available on their website. A dedicated sales rep will hold cards for you, or negotiate on your behalf for better rates.

Sams Club has a page where you can purchase certain gift cards at a discount. Some deals are better than others. A $50 Bob Evans or Krispy Kreme gift card sells for $37.50. That’s a nice 25% discount. But a $75 card for Outback Steakhouse is $74.88, and a $25 Jo-Ann Craft card is $24.98. You save a whopping 0.08%!

Some gift card exchanges limit the amount of money in which it will deal. Some will buy or sell cards with up to $5,000 stored value, while others draw the line at $200. Most exchanges require a minimum of $20 in stored value, but you can combined the smaller values stored on multiple cards in one sale.

The best exchange rate - 100% - may be available simply by calling the issuing merchant and asking for a refund of the balance on an unwanted card. It doesn’t always work, but it does often enough to be worth a toll-free call to the customer service number on the back of the card.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below..

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Most recent comments on "[HOWTO] Cash In Unwanted Gift Cards"

Posted by:

Renaud Olgiati
08 Jan 2021

There is a lot more on this subject, and more generally on the economics ofgiving and receiving gifts, in Joel Waldfogel's book "Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays".

Highly (was going to write "bigly")recommended.

Posted by:

08 Jan 2021

Gift-Card Exchange Cardpool.com Hit by Thousands of Consumer Complaints

Posted by:

09 Jan 2021

Thank you BobRankin for all that you do to educate us.
I detest "gift" cards. I rather not get any 'gift' than to be gifted a card for xx amount, which either shows me how much I am worth and/or how little thought has gone to such 'giving'. In hindsight, cash seems more appealing a gift than such cards; IMHO.
(there may be an extra word in the first sentence reference to cardpool.com)

Posted by:

09 Jan 2021

As per https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2021/gift-card-exchange-cardpool/ Cardpool representatives say they are shutting down.

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