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What To Do With Unwanted Gift Cards and Store Credits
Gift Cards- Millions of Wasted Dollars Annually
It has happened to all of us. Maybe it was at a Secret Santa giveaway,or someone drew our name at the office, or a relative that just didn't get it but surely each of us have been the recipient of a gift card that we knew we were not going to use. Ever.
Ten Percent of Gift Cards Will Never Be Used
TowerGroup, a consulting firm out of Needham. Mass., estimates that out of the 58.3 BILLION dollars in gift cards bought this year a full ten percent will never be used. This causes a problem for the retailers because they have to record the money as a liability for a period of time. This keeps their financial reports off for that period.
However, after the point that the cards are no longer valid (most have an expiration) the company can report the money as profit. One hundred percent profit.
States Raking in the Benefit
Some states are seeing a windfall themselves. Maine has recently decided that after two years a dormant (unclaimed ) gift certificate will revert to the state as unclaimed property. The state will take 60% and give 20% to the retailer as book-keeping and accounting fees. The state announced that the money should be returned to the consumer, however I fail to see how the state taking 60% does that.
So, you got a gift certificate to a steak restaurant and you are a vegan. What do you do with things like that? What are the options?
Consumer Reports on Gift Cards
Trading, Direct Sell, and Auction Sites
There are trading, direct sell, and auction sites where you can offer the certificate in trade or for sale. There is generally a small fee or percentage involved. If you are selling the card directly to the site you can expect to get about 60-70% if the face value of the card.
Generally speaking, offering it for sale will mean that you sell it for a discounted rate from the face value. For example, at one siteCertificate Swap, I found a $100 Albertson's Grocery certificate for $87.00 and a $50. Applebees certificate for $47.00.
At Card Avenue you can set up a wish list and trade cards you have for cards you want. There is also an auction area of the site where you can bid on cards as well as put cards up for auction. In that area, for example I saw a $150 Nordstroms gift card on auction, with the current bid being $125.00.
Numerous Starbucks cards were for sale or trade, many traders specify that they would be happy trading for any merchant. There is a small fee for trades and a percentage taken for auctions.
Swap-a-gift is more of a classified type site for gift cards. You list your card for ninety days at a flat fee of $1.99, and then if it doesn't sell you can re-list it for free. Also with Swap-a-gift you can sell directly to the website and get cash immediately as long as your card value is $25.00 or more.
Another option is Gift Card Buy Back a site that allows you to sell your cards directly to them. In fact, they point out that you could potentially buy a discounted gift card from another site and sell to them at a profit. Interesting.
Gift Card Bazaar allows you to sell directly to them or list your card and wait for a buyer. The buy back rate for the is 68% of the face value of the card.
And of course, eBay is always up for what ever you want to auction on it but I think the prices are generally lower than some of the less known sites.
- Gift Certificates, Gift Cards
Gift Certificates, Gift Cards, Gift Certificate to swap.
- Cardavenue: Gift Card Exchange, Discounted Gift Cards, Gift Certificates, Gift Card Swap
- Swapagift.com - buy, sell or swap gift cards.
Swapagift is the leading Internet site that provides a forum for buying, selling, and swapping merchant gift cards.
- Gift Card Buy Back, - Welcome
- Home - GiftCardBazaar.com - The Web
GiftCardBazaar.com is the best place on the internet to buy and sell discounted gift cards! We offer one stop shopping for your gift card needs! If you would like to sell a gift card, we offer you the chance to get cash for your card fast, or take Gi
Donating Gift Cards
Another thing you can do is to donate the gift cards to your favorite charity. The local homeless shelter, for example could benefit greatly from gift cards to department stores and super centers where they could pick up everything from office supplies and clothing to groceries. The SPCA can benefit from cards to places like Petco, and the young couple at church that never seem to have enough money might really enjoy a card to Starbucks.
Maybe you have a gift card to a grocery store..The local food bank would probably love it. Use your imagination and keep your eyes open. There are lots of places your unwanted gift cards can be a blessing.
Sometimes the best revenue from a gift card, the best gift of all, is the enjoyment you get in giving it away.
Can I Return a Gift Card for Money Back?
Generally speaking you cannot redeem a gift card for cash. A store that has sold a gift card will usually not give you cash in return for the card. If you buy something you can usually get amount balances of less than $5 back as cash though.
A possibility, and stores all differ so make sure you understand what your store's policy is, is to buy something with most of the gift card money. Get cash back for the balance, and then, at some later point in time return the item for cash back or credit on your credit card. This is not entirely ethical but as a last resort it may work for you. It is not illegal.
Don't Let Cards Benefit the Company
Most of all, you don't want to allow your gift cards to sit and do nothing. Why benefit a huge company like Macy's with an extra $50 bucks just because you don't like to shop there? Make the cards work for you, whether ethically or financially and use them wisely.