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Selling or Buying Gift Card Certificates to Make or Save Money

Updated on December 7, 2011

Introduction to Selling (or Buying) Unused Gift Cards Gift Certificates to Earn Cash

Can you earn cash when you sell unused gift cards or gift certificates? We all get gift cards that we never cash in. There are a million reasons for not using a gift card:

-You don't like the store

-You don't like to shop

-You don't need the merchandise the card offers

-You don't want any more junk around the house.

Regardless of the reasons, you may be sitting on a gift card with money still on it that you will never use. If the gift card / gift certificate was bought for you and you know you will never use it, you should seriously consider selling it to make a profit. After all it was free.

Buying a Gift Card Got Me Thinking About Selling Gift Cards to Make Money

I went on internet search to buy gift cards that still had money left on them. I focused on online auctions, Ebay of course, in hopes of really saving a lot of money. There are a couple stores that I buy merchandise from regularly so I figured I'd buy a gift card at a ridiculously low price, take it to the store and then see considerable savings at check out.

I had this brilliant idea about bidding on a gift card for mega-hardware store, Lowes. I thought I could fetch a $100 gift card for like $10, $15, or even $50 at auction, then go and buy something or some things for $100 at a huge discount (thanks to the card). That combined with any coupon or special offers would really bring my price down. If it was something I needed for my home, I'd own it for a fraction of the price.

Even if it was something I didn't need but could get at a great price, I'd try to sell the good or goods at a profit. Think about it, I get a $100 gift card for $20 on Ebay, then go out and buy a $100 item. Even without any extra coupons or discounts, I'd get the $100 item for only $20 ($100 item - $100 gift certificate + $20 cost of gift certificate/card = $20).

Then I could turn that $20 payment into a tidy profit. Maybe sell for $40 or $60 or $80 ...... right?

Not really.... there's an interesting catch....

Can You Save Money Buying Gift Cards That Still Have Money on It?

Yes you can, however I found that the savings were not up to my very lofty money saving expectations. I kept thinking I was going to get this steal of a deal but in reality there is a lot of competition amount buyers (yes buyers) to purchase popular gift cards.

Using my Lowes example, I put a $20 on line auction bid on a $112 Lowes gift card. The final bid on the gift card was $110. In other words, the person who bought the card for $110 will only save $2 (1) if they spend the entire card. That doesn't seem worth the effort to pay out that much money for that little gain.

Not all margins were that razor thin but, as a buyer, you still needed to spend a lot of cash. Other Lowes gift cards went for:

$11.84 gift card for $11.16 (!)
$436 gift card sold for $397
$500 gift card sold for $465

You can see that, yes, you can save money buying gift cards but the savings margins don't start to become significant until you start spending hundreds of dollars.

Other Gift Card Certificates That Were Sold

I'm not suggesting that all gift card certificates are created equal. I'm sure some sell for less than others. That said, there seems to be a pretty consistent trend that indicates how much you can stand to make by selling gift card certificates or save by buying.

Here are some more examples I saw:

Babies R Us gift card worth $267 sold for $237

McDonalds gift card worth $100 sold for $100 (That's not a typo. The $100 card actually did sell for $100... I don't get it either)

Bass Pro For $147 went for $127

AMC Theaters for $100 sold for $83

Should I Buy or Sell Gift Cards?

Obviously, if you were given a card / certificate for free and you know you will never use it, I'd suggest trying to sell it. If you bought a gift card / certificate and for some reason you know you'll never use it, you may as well cut your loses and sell it as well. It seems a safe bet that you will sell the card for a significant percentage of the cards value.

Buying gift cards is beneficial as well. You will definitely save money. Keep in mind that the savings might be slim and to realize the full savings you need to use up the entire card (no use spending $90 on a $100 card and then only spending $90)

Where and How to Sell Gift Cards - Tips for the Beginner

Selling gift cards on line is easy to do. I wrote an article on how to do this and linked it below

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