What to Do With Your Unwanted Gift Cards

According to the National Retail Federation, up to $85 billion dollars was traded in gift cards in the last year and of that amount, about $6 billion went unused. The number of unused cards have gone up each year and most people believed it was because of the not so consumer friendly terms surrounding gift cards and the fact that most people simply don’t patronize the stores they have received the gift card to. There are several cases I have seen for example where someone receives a gift card to Outback Steakhouse as a Christmas gift from a co-worker who had no clue the recipient is vegetarian. In cases like these (which are more common than most people think), the gift cards often end up at the bottom of a purse somewhere or underneath a drawer.

Gift Cards

Photo by arvindgrover via Flickr

Recent study has also shown that more than 20% of gift card recipients last year received cards to stores they will never visit or buy from. What happens in situations like this? It’s not like you can take the gift card to the issuing store and exchange it for cash.

Selling Your Unwanted Gift Cards

One thing you can do is to either exchange the gift cards or trade them in for cash on websites like GiftCardRescue.com. These websites provide a platform for people who have cards they have no need for to sell them for cash or exchange for Amazon.com credit. The site then sells these cards in turn at discounted prices. An interesting fact about selling your gift card is that you actually get most of the cash value of the card back. For example, GiftCardRescue pays the seller up to 90% of the card’s face value. In cases like this, the seller knows what he/she will get back on the card as opposed to selling on bidding sites where returns are never as good and the validity of the card cannot be established before the cards change hands.

Other Things You Can Do With Unwanted Gift Cards

There are many other things you can do with unwanted gift cards if you choose not to sell. Here are some more options:

  1. Exchange the gift cards for Amazon.com credit. Amazon.com is arguably the largest online retailer and just about everything is sold there. If you have a gift card to a store that you don’t patronize and would rather buy something else, then this is probably your best option.
  2. Give it to someone else as a gift. Yes there really is no harm in re-gifting a card you have no need for. If for example you received a Babies ‘R Us gift card and you have no kids who will benefit from it, then it’s more honorable than ‘uncaring’ to re-gift in this instance to a friend who has kids that might need the card more.
  3. Donate your card to charity. This is another common option for people with unwanted gift cards. Charities and causes are always associated with helping the less fortunate and it’s no secret that there are people somewhere who would appreciate what could be purchased with that gift card more than you.
  4. Get the money back. This is not always allowed in most stores but depending on store policy, there are places where you can go use your gift card to buy something you want and ask for the remaining unused value of the card as cash back. This is the least popular option because majority of stores don’t afford you this option.

About the Author

By , on Jan 10, 2011
Kwame Kuadey
Kwame Kuadey is the CEO and Founder of GiftCardRescue.com, a site for selling unwanted gift cards for cash. Kwame is also editor of Gift Card Blogger, a blog about discounted gift card deals and more.

Leave Your Comment (7 Comments)

  1. Tiffany Yale says:

    I’d always just sell them on ebay, lol

  2. skohn says:

    Really, wish I read the article before the Holidays…

  3. Jane Sanders says:

    GiftCardRescue.com sounds like a great idea. I wonder just how big the market is for unwanted gift cards. Too bad for the retailers though, who absolutely love the “breakage” or money they gain from gift cards that go unclaimed. I wish there wasn’t such a taboo against giving cash gifts. It’s really much more practical than gift cards, who really benefit no one but the merchant.

  4. Shoppers would love to hear this. Been using gift cards for a while now. I hope to hear more of this.

  5. Kwame Kuadey says:

    Thanks JWizzle! Yes, this is Kwame from Shark Tank.

  6. krantcents says:

    This is great information. Too often, gift cards are forgotten if it is not used immediately. I particularly like use it at Amazon.

  7. JWizzle says:

    Is this the Kwame I saw on SharkTank?

    If so, you’ve got a great model, and a great business. Very cool. 😉

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