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Cameron Huddleston

Here's a source of money you might not have realized that you had.



You probably have a couple hundred dollars lying around your house and don't even know it. No, I'm not talking about some secret stash the previous owners might have hidden under the floorboards or a buried treasure in the backyard. I'm talking about unused gift cards.

"The average household has about $300 in unspent gift cards in their house," says Gary Briggs, chief executive of Plastic Jungle, a Web site that lets you buy, sell, exchange or donate gift cards. With sites such as Plastic Jungle, SwapaGift.com and Gift Card Granny you can turn those cards into cash. "Consumers don't realize they have as much money in their sock drawers as they do," Briggs says.

You won't get the full value of your card (up to 92% at best). But if someone gave the gift card to you, it's like getting free money. And you don't have to pay for shipping if you sell your unwanted cards to Plastic Jungle, which will send you a prepaid postage label.

Money saving tip: Later this summer Plastic Jungle will be launching a service that will let you use a branded store gift card at a different retailer's site. Plastic Jungle is working with several top retailers (Briggs wouldn't say which ones) to offer this service. When consumers get to the check-out page of a retailer's site, they'll be given the opportunity to use another retailer's card. Plastic Jungle will buy that card at a discount, and the consumer gets the credit instantly on his or her purchase. The consumer will have to send the gift card to Plastic Jungle, which will require a secondary form of payment -- such as a credit card -- until it can verify that the gift card is legitimate.

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