What to Do with Unwanted Gift Cards


I latterly beat out my Money Crashers colleagues in a grueling check of collegiate athletics wisdom. My prize was once a Dunkin’ present card in all its orange and white glory.

There was once only one downside. I reside in Minnesota, house of Caribou Coffee. I’d by no means set foot in a Dunkin’ right here. I wasn’t even positive we had them. A handy guide a rough Google seek knowledgeable me that, sure, there are a couple of, however none in my community and even any place with reference to the place my day by day regimen takes me. 

Was my hard-won prize successfully nugatory? Hardly. There’s a thriving marketplace for undesirable present playing cards, each used and unused. I had choices. And when you find yourself in ownership of a present card you don’t need or straight-up can’t use, so do you.

What to Do With Unwanted Gift Cards

One individual’s trash present card is someone else’s treasure present card — or one thing. But severely. Someone most definitely desires that factor, and you’ll recuperate maximum of its worth for those who play your playing cards proper. (Heh.) 

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I’ve indexed your choices in tough order of doable go back on funding. See which one’s best for you.

1. Sell Them on eBay

I, too, periodically overlook eBay exists, nevertheless it does, and also you must attempt to promote your undesirable present playing cards on it. The public sale style and name-your-own-price imply it’s one of the most handiest puts the place you’ll (theoretically) promote present playing cards for greater than face worth. If any individual loves Bed Bath & Beyond sufficient to provide you with $150 for a $100 present card, guy, allow them to.

Unfortunately, eBay’s present playing cards coverage is complicated. What’s transparent is that you’ll handiest promote present playing cards from eBay itself or third-party shops authorized by means of eBay, you should have your present card in hand whilst you record it, and also you should send it inside 5 days of the sale date if you’ll’t ship it electronically. 

It’s additionally transparent you’ll’t promote:

  • Electronic present playing cards from unapproved shops
  • Prepaid debit playing cards, even from main issuers like Amex or Mastercard
  • Store or products credit score, reminiscent of a go back receipt 

And the full present card worth throughout all of your reside present card auctions should be underneath $500 all the time.

Beyond that, issues are fuzzier. The on-line public sale corporate doesn’t say outright it’s OK to record bodily present playing cards from manufacturers and shops which might be nonetheless in industry. It handiest mentions collectible present playing cards with out a face worth and usable present playing cards from corporations going via chapter lawsuits. It’s no longer completely transparent that you’ll promote different sorts of present playing cards on eBay in any respect.

But on a handy guide a rough seek of the web site, I discovered energetic present card and retailer voucher listings from energetic, financially wholesome corporations like KFC. Who is aware of whether or not it’s a case of selective enforcement or one thing else, however the worst-case state of affairs (as I are aware of it) is that eBay takes down your present card record earlier than the sale is going via and also you’re again at sq. one.

One remaining word: Since they’re ceaselessly discussed in the similar dialog as eBay: Facebook Marketplace and Amazon make it a lot more tricky, if no longer not possible, for normal other people to promote undesirable present playing cards. Facebook Marketplace completely prohibits the follow, and except I’m lacking one thing, Amazon limits present card gross sales to verified manufacturers promoting their very own playing cards (as in, Lowe’s itself promoting Lowe’s present playing cards).

2. Sell Them on Another Legit Site

If eBay isn’t your jam, check out some other web site that permits you to call your individual charge for present playing cards you wish to have to promote. 

The transparent chief on this class is Raise, which acts as a dealer for present playing cards and personalised coupon codes from hundreds of U.S.-based traders. You call your individual charge — as much as the cardboard’s face worth, regardless that they promote sooner at a cut price. Raise takes a flat 15% of the promoting charge, so the utmost worth you’ll get on your card is 85%.

That seems like a steep cut price, and it’s, however Raise in reality stands by myself relating to succeed in and perceived legitimacy. Your present card is a lot more prone to promote there than some other DIY public sale or e-commerce web site.

The different name-your-own-price web site price bringing up is Gameflip, a retail web site for avid gamers. It’s the most productive position to promote present playing cards for gaming networks like PlayStation and Xbox, app shops like Google Play and the App Store, and social communities like Steam. Gameflip’s fee is a flat 8% to ten% of the sale charge, relying on what you’re promoting.

3. Trade Them in for Cash

The house isn’t as crowded because it was once, however there are nonetheless a number of respectable websites that pay dealers without delay for present playing cards. These websites don’t act as intermediaries between dealers and consumers — after you have your cash, you don’t have any additional legal responsibility, and it’s all on them to promote the present card for greater than they paid for it.

The payoff doable varies by means of web site, nevertheless it’s in most cases on par with or less than Raise. I ran some eventualities on CardCash, the most important and maximum respectable of the remainder trade-for-cash websites, and were given the next provides for a hypothetical $50 present card from quite a lot of main traders:

  • $33 for Hard Rock Cafe
  • $33.50 for The Gap
  • $34 for Sephora
  • $39.50 for Starbucks
  • $42.25 for Target

You can see a trend: The more difficult it’s for the typical individual to redeem a present card, the fewer it will probably fetch at trade-in. These trade-in websites know there are fewer Hard Rock Cafe lovers than per month Target customers.

The maximum you’ll be expecting to make at CardCash is 92 cents at the greenback, and that’s no longer even with reference to assured. You can earn round 2% extra for those who commerce your present card for Walmart or Amazon present playing cards, which can be virtually as just right as coins, and as much as 11% extra for those who commerce for present playing cards from much less fascinating (however nonetheless well-liked) manufacturers like CVS, Lowe’s, and Wayfair.

Other than CardCash, take a look at:

  • GiftCash, which will pay up to 92% or 93% for in-demand present playing cards
  • ClipKard, the place payouts appear to best out round 85% of face worth
  • CardSell, a smaller app-based trade-in web site that turns out reliable however that I wouldn’t for my part use because of its small dimension and damaging person evaluations

This record was once so much longer again in 2012 and may just get shorter nonetheless in long run. The present card trade-in marketplace simply isn’t what it was once. But you’ll nonetheless get a forged go back for your undesirable playing cards for those who’re keen to place within the effort.

4. Sell Them Privately to Friends or Family

Regifting undesirable present playing cards is a advantageous choice for those who don’t care about recuperating the cardboard’s worth, however you’re no sap, and also you’re in no way a charity. So milk that plastic (and your family members’ believe) for all it’s price and promote your present playing cards to other people you realize!

While you definitely don’t know as many of us as you’ll succeed in via Raise or eBay, you realize the ones other people higher. You can tailor your provides to would-be consumers’ recognized personal tastes. If you hate espresso, however your sister merely can’t make it during the day with out a Starbucks latte, there’s your fit. Sell her the cardboard for 90 cents at the greenback — greater than you’d get from CardCash — and she or he’ll nonetheless pop out forward.

5. Buy Stuff to Sell

Hello, facet hustle!

In principle, the usage of undesirable present playing cards to shop for and resell in-demand products let you recapture their worth and even perhaps make a couple of greenbacks within the procedure.

But it’s more difficult than it seems to be. You have to shop for the products, watch for the supply, most definitely unbox it, take footage, analysis the marketplace to determine what you must record it for, create a product record — it’s a large number of paintings. 

Not handiest that, however you’re not likely to make again what you paid except you were given a super charge within the first position or charge your listings in reality aggressively. On websites like eBay or Amazon, the place you’ll to find the most important audiences, be expecting to pay 15% of the sale charge off the highest, plus extra in ancillary charges. On websites like Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor, you’ll set your individual costs, however you’ll compete in opposition to dealers who aren’t looking to flip a benefit and received’t have as large a pool of doable consumers.

My two cents: Using undesirable present playing cards to shop for and resell products can also be amusing for those who’re into that kind of factor, however whilst there’s an opportunity you’ll pop out forward, it’s no longer one of the best ways to maximise your present playing cards’ worth.

6. Buy Presents 

If you don’t need to deplete the hassle to resell products bought along with your undesirable present playing cards, give that products as a present to any individual else. You received’t without delay take advantage of the present card’s face worth, however you received’t need to spend out of pocket for the ones items both. 

This choice does technically generate a 100% go back for your present playing cards’ face worth, assuming you employ the entire quantity. But it calls for some effort and time to investigate, make a selection, and buy items. You would possibly really Feel that effort and time is best spent in other places, during which case you’re giving the true present card as a present.

Even in case your time isn’t price a lot, the usage of undesirable present playing cards to shop for items for others works highest for present playing cards from traders that promote all kinds of products (and for much less choosy gift-getters). It’s more uncomplicated this fashion. Think Target or Walmart — or no less than Reebok or Gap. Outback Steakhouse or Dave & Busters, no longer such a lot — except the revel in is the present, during which case we’re again to promoting (or regifting) the present card itself.

7. Redeem Them for Cash

This choice is solely shy of a final lodge. It has an excessively low doable go back because of in depth restrictions on how and the place you’ll go back present playing cards to the issuing service provider for coins worth.

Every state has rather other laws, however don’t be expecting to get greater than $10 for an undesirable present card regardless of the place you reside. Generally, the cardboard’s ultimate worth needs to be less than the money trade threshold — ceaselessly simply $5 — so you may want to spend it down anyway.

8. Donate Them (or Stuff You Bought With Them) to Charity

Thanks to a big U.S. tax code overhaul in 2017, maximum taxpayers now not have the benefit of the IRS’s lengthy record of doable itemized deductions. You want to have greater than (about) $13,000 in itemized deductions for those who’re submitting personally or $26,000 for those who’re submitting collectively along with your partner to surpass the usual deduction and make listing profitable. The overwhelming majority of taxpayers (about 95%) don’t meet those thresholds.

But for those who’re moderately assured you’ll itemize this tax 12 months, donating your present playing cards to a tax-exempt nonprofit may just trim your tax invoice slightly extra. The similar is going for products you purchase along with your present playing cards after which donate. 

You can deduct the honest marketplace worth of your donations — the present card’s face worth or no matter you paid for the products. This quantity reduces your taxable source of revenue, so your go back is the same as your best marginal tax charge. It received’t exceed 37% (the highest marginal tax charge) and it will be decrease.

Final Word

After some hemming and hawing, I made up our minds to carry onto my Dunkin’ present card. Rather than cross 20 mins out of my method 10 instances for sickeningly candy drip espresso — no offense, Dunkin’ lovers — I made up our minds to make one particular travel and cargo up on whole-bean luggage. 

We undergo a forged pound of espresso a week in my area, so I knew it wouldn’t linger. And I seemed ahead to taking a ruin from Costco’s most cost-effective whole-bean espresso, which will get previous after some time.

It was once the proper resolution. But it will were advantageous if I’d selected a unique trail too. A handy guide a rough seek of the used present card sphere satisfied me I will have recovered no less than 85% of the cardboard’s worth. Which I’d have promptly spent on Costco’s most cost-effective whole-bean espresso.

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