Get the Most From Your Unwanted Gift Cards

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You can easily sell unwanted gift cards or buy ones you do want at a discount. Here's some advice to make sure you get the biggest bang for your gift buck.

Not so long ago, when you got a present you didn’t like, you drove to the store it came from and quietly returned it. These days, if you get a gift card you don’t want, you can sell it online.

You won’t get back all the money on the card, of course. But  you can get a hefty share. One way is post your unused cards on Craigslist – or buy one by searching “gift card.” eBay also offers an active market in gift cards. And there are specialty sites you can try. A few of the biggies:

Cardpool and Plastic Jungle only handle cards with at least $25 on them, while Gift Card Rescue requires $15 and Monster Gift Card a mere $10. Here’s how they work…

Selling a Card

All these sites work the same way. Just type in the name of the retailer and the money left on the card, and you’ll find out how much you can get back. For instance, a $50 Walmart card will fetch you $45 at Card Pool and Plastic Jungle – but $42.50 at Monster Gift Card and $1.50 at Gift Card Rescue.

That’s why you need to check each site if you want to get the most cash for your card. Each site seems to have its own hidden rules, and no single site is always better.

If you’re a fan of Amazon.com, three of the sites will give you a bonus. Card Pool, Plastic Jungle, and Gift Card Rescue offer 5% more if you forgo the cash and convert your existing card into an Amazon gift card.

Once you settle on a specific site, you have to open an account and mail in the gift card. Insure the package and get a tracking number – you get your payment once the site gets the card.

Buying a Card

It’s even easier to buy a card from one of these sites. Again, comparison shopping is the key. (Example: Card Pool offers a $50 Macy’s card for $46, an 8% discount – while Plastic Jungle offers it for $45, a 10% discount.) When you buy from these sites, you don’t pay  taxes, fees, or shipping costs.

Prices fluctuate like the stock market, so if you find a good deal, seize the moment. And Card Pool and Plastic Jungle only touch cards with no fees or expiration dates and GiftCardRescue insists the expiration date be at least six months away. Monster Gift Card has no rules about that.

New federal regulations regarding gift cards recently went into effect that make things like expiration dates and fees more consumer friendly – see our story about that here. And some states offer even greater consumer protections: For a state-by-state list of gift card consumer protection laws from Consumer’s Union, click here.

Now if you could only sell those ugly Father’s Day ties the same way…

Stacy Johnson

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