Today Is National Gift Card Exchange Day

Merry Christmas! Did you get everything you wanted? Chances are you got a lot of great gifts, but there were one or two items under the tree that you had to fake a smile as you unwrapped it.

Thankfully I didn’t have to fake too much enthusiasm for unwanted gifts this year, except for one. Long time readers might remember the story I told last year about my Aunt Maude from St. Petersburg, Florida. Last year she gave me and Mr. Patterson a gift card to an AMC movie theater. That’s a great present. I love gift cards and I love going to the movies. The problem is that there are no AMC movie theaters where I live. Like not even one that I could drive out of my way to go to. There are zero AMC movie theaters near me.

And guess what Aunt Maude got us for Christmas again this year? Another AMC movie theater gift card. I guess my fake smile was a little too convincing last year. So now I have a gift card in my possession that I know I’ll never use. It will most likely linger in the junk drawer in my kitchen, unused and taking up space. It will irk me that I have a gift card with free money on it that I can’t get at. I know I could re-gift it but that means waiting weeks or months for someone’s birthday to come up, plus they’d have to live somewhere near an AMC theater.

I know this situation has happened to you too. An estimated $110 billion worth of gift cards were sold this year according to research group CEB Tower Group.  Chances are you are one of the millions of people that got a gift card for Christmas or your birthday to a shop you don’t like or can’t find anything in so the gift card basically goes to waste. A Consumer Reports poll revealed that 25 percent of people who received a gift card for Christmas last year still haven’t used them, and more than half of those had two or more unredeemed gift cards.

That’s a lot of wasted money sitting around your house. But it doesn’t have to be. You can turn that gift card into cold, hard cash or switch it out for another one to a store you actually like to shop at. The best part is it’s easy to do.

So because I don’t like the idea of wasting gift cards I looked into what I can do with it. There is actually a huge demand for this type of thing. A large secondary market for swapping and selling gift cards online has popped up over the last several years. Companies like giftcardrescue.com, plasticjungle.com, and giftcardswapping.com all offer users the ability to trade in their unwanted gift cards.

How it Works

If you want to get cash for your unwanted gift card you can do that fairly easily and quickly. Visit any of the aforementioned gift card swapping websites and click on the link to sell your item. You’ll have to enter the gift cards serial number, the store the gift card is for, and the exact amount left on the card. Once this information is filled out you’ll receive a quote as to how much they are willing to pay you for your gift card. On average, sellers get between 70 to 90 percent of the value of their gift cards. The more popular the retailer is, the higher amount you’ll get for your card. Most likely the gift card exchange site will offer to pay you via check, Paypal, or an Amazon.com gift card. Then just mail your gift card to them. Once they have verified the amount left on the gift card they’ll send you payment. The best part is all of these sites mail you payment within just a few days, so you get your money fast!

You can also choose to swap gift cards instead of selling them. This works much the same way as selling them does. You fill out information about the card you want to exchange, and then mail it in.  Once the value has been verified the exchange site will mail you the gift card you want to exchange it for. Some sites, like giftcardresuce.com will exchange your gift card for an amazon.com card with a five percent bonus! Each site offers you slightly different exchange options so check out a few of them before deciding which one is right for you.

These websites are also great places to buy gift cards. They have gift cards from most retailers, all of the big ones you can think of as well as some less well-known merchants. Buyers can pick up gift cards at huge discounts, up to 35 percent off the face value of the card, although the savings is less for popular vendors. Next time you need to buy a gift card for a friend’s birthday or shower check out one of these sites. No one will know that you saved money on your purchase!

The Fine Print

There aren’t many rules when selling or exchanging an unwanted gift card. Most of these gift card exchange sites require you to have a minimum of a $25 balance left on the card you want to get rid of. Some won’t accept balances with an odd amount on it, like $62.14. Probably the biggest catch is that these sites deal with gift cards from national retailers, so if you have a gift card from a local shop you probably won’t be able to sell it. The nice part is that all of these online exchange sites offer you free shipping when selling or buying a gift card.

Gift cards are the number one gift requested and given for Christmas and birthdays. So it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll receive one in your lifetime for a store or brand that isn’t to your liking. Instead of letting the unwanted card collect dust in a kitchen drawer, why not exchange it for cash or another gift card that you actually want! According to TowerGroup research firm an estimated $41 billion in gift cards have not been used since 2005. You know who gets that money? The retailers! This year make the effort to line your pockets with cash instead of theirs.

Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson


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