Kip Tips


What to Do With Unwanted Gift Cards

Cameron Huddleston

You can turn cards you don't want into cash -- or pay bills and make charitable contributions with them.



Here's the scene: You're at your family's annual holiday gathering and everyone is exchanging gifts. You open the envelope from Aunt Bea and, oh yay, it's a gift card ... to a store where you NEVER shop. You force a smile, say thank you and think to yourself that this gift card will end up at the back of a drawer with all those other gift cards you never used.

If you receive an unwanted gift card, there's an easy way to sell it at sites such as Plastic Jungle, Cardpool.com, GiftCards.com and Gift Card Granny. 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.

You don't have to pay for shipping if you sell your unwanted cards to Plastic Jungle or Cardpool.com, which will send you a prepaid postage label. GiftCards.com requires you to pay for postage when you mail in your unwanted card. But it has partner locations in most states where you can trade in your card for cash.

Plastic Jungle and Cardpool.com give you the option of receiving an Amazon.com gift card (rather than cash) in exchange for your card. The Amazon.com card's value will be lower than your card's but likely higher than than the cash amount you'd receive. For example, say you had a Gap gift card. At Plastic Jungle, you could get a cashier's check for $20.50 or an Amazon.com gift card valued at $21.53. (The amounts are slightly less at Cardpool.com.)

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Cardpool.com also lets you trade in unwanted gift cards for Facebook credits to buy virtual goods in the games and applications on the social-networking site.

And Plastic Jungle gives you the option of donating unwanted gift cards to your favorite charity. Click on "sell gift cards" and you'll be given the option before you complete your transaction to donate part or all of the proceeds from the sale of your card to a charity. You'll receive a receipt for your tax-deductible contribution (see Deducting Charitable Contributions).

GiftCards.com allows you to use your unwanted gift card to pay bills. You enter the name of the company that issued the card and the amount, and GiftCards.com will show you the amount it will apply toward a bill of your choosing. Then you have to mail a copy of your bill and the gift card to GiftCards.com.

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