Gift Card Exchange Guide

11:53 AM

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of this post for 1 last tip!


Gift Card Exchange Time!

UPDATE:  I first made this blog post in January 2015.  I do my best to verify and update each year.  As far as I know the information is still valid.  READ THE FINE PRINT as terms and conditions may have changed!

Now that the holiday season is over it's time to sort through those gift cards you received.  If you're like me there may be one or two that you already know you're not going to use.  Don't worry about it - I'm here to help.



Yes you can trade those gift cards for cash and it's fast and easy to do.  This post is offered to you as a guide on how best to ditch those unwanted, unusable gift cards.

First Things First

What are you willing to give up?
You can ditch the old gift cards but make no mistake about it you're giving something up!  You'll sacrifice time or money or convenience.

The Sacrifice:
Time:  Getting the most money for your gift cards takes a little time.  So say you have a $100 gift card.  You can sell that card for $97.00 but it's going to take you a week or more to complete the transaction.

Money:  You can have cash in hand very quickly but it'll cost you.  With certain vendors you can trade a $100 card for $60 cash on the spot. But if you want the most you should look around.

Convenience:  Some card exchanges are fairly quick (within 24 hours) and offer a descent trade in value, but you're limited on what you get in return.  For example, a $100 Target gift card traded in at Walmart will get you $96.60 in Walmart store credit.  That's a GREAT and easy outcome but only if you want to shop at Walmart or Sam's Club.

Ways to Trade

Comparison Website: Sites like Gift Cardio compare Card Hub, Card Cash, Ebay and Card Pool prices to find the best website to sell or buy gift cards from.  Use this type of site to purchase cards at a discount or sell your unwanted cards. Gift Cardio also shows you the recent trends, so you can see what time is the best to sell. (when the discount trend is at a low you should sell [see picture])
Pro:  This method is relatively easy
Con:  You'll need to read about the different rules for the place you are selling the card at. For example, at Ebay you must mail the card, while Raise you can mail or upload a picture of it.

Payment Method:  Check in the mail or Paypal.
How Gift Cardio Works



eBay:  Before this year I used to sell my cards on ebay.  I already have an ebay account so getting started was super easy for me.  Ebay typically offers a good value for the cards (I'd commonly get $95-$97 for a $100 card).  
Pro: Easy if you already have an eBay account.  This method works best for popular cards.  You can sell a card (or store credit) in any amount. 
Cons: If you have a gift card from a smaller store your card may take longer to sell or you might not get as good of a return.  Since you are paid through paypal the payment method could be a pro or a con.  You will incur fees from both paypal and ebay.
Payment Method:  Paypal   




CoinStar:  This method was new to me.  I tried it for the first time this year and it's GREAT but there are significant downsides!  Use the coinstar website to find the special CoinStar Gift Card Exchange machine near you.  You CAN NOT exchange cards at the regular coin star machine.  Card Exchange machines are yellow (the regular machines are green).  Also, before you drive over to the coinstar machine, check the list of gift cards that they accept.  They take a lot of common cards but there are MANY stores that are not on their list.  
Pro: This is the fastest, easiest process BY FAR!  You receive cash on the spot.
Cons: Very poor return.  For a $100 gift card I received only $60.  There is a $20 minimum on cards.  There are a lot of cards that they don't accept.   You need to have a valid driver's license or state ID plus a credit card.
Payment Method:  Cash 

CoinStar Gift Card Machine

CardCash - This is actually my favorite way to trade, but there are down sides.

Here's how CardCash works:

Option #1-
You enter the store name and value of the card(s).  Card cash gives you a quote on how much cash they'll offer.  For example.  If you trade in a $100 Home Depot Gift card they will offer you $82.00 if you mail the card in or $77.00 if you enter the information online.

How Card Cash Works
Pros: Easy, can be completed online, partial gift cards are ok.  
Cons: You get more money if you mail in the card.  You might have to wait for your money to arrive in the mail.
 Payment method: Paypal, direct deposit, check in the mail or trade for another gift card

Option #2 -
So say you'd like to trade to your $100 Home Depot gift card for an eGift card.  Card Cash will give you $86.00 in credit at a participating store.  Those stores include CVS, Bed Bath and Beyond, Dell, eBay, Hotels.com. Sears, Toys R Us, Kmart and more.

Trade your cards for ebay credit
Everything is done online and it's very easy.

Pros: Fast, easy, widely available.  Partial gift cards are fine.
Cons: This ecard program is only available online and you have to have email to receive the gift card.  Also, depending on the card, you may need to mail the card in and wait for your money or eGift card.
Payment Method:  store credit only (arrives by email)    


ONE MORE THING-
Say you got a couple of gift cards and you enjoyed your shopping experience, BUT there's a little money left over.  It's too little money to spend, but more than you want to toss out.  Sell those gift cards!  I sold mine on CardCash, but you can sell them anywhere.

I had a year old Lord and Taylor gift card with a balance of $1.46.  I was paid $1.08.  For a Saks 5th Ave card that had a $7.01 balance I was paid $5.82.  Grand total is $6.91.  Now, $6.91 is not a lot of money but it's more than I would have had if I just let these cards sit and go to waste.

Small Balance Cards = cash payout
Make sure you check the card balances before you attempt to sell them.  Also, pick up any old gift cards you see lying around.  Store parking lots, sofa cushions and old purses can be a gold mine of nearly spent gift cards!


Pro Tips: 
Shop Around-  Smart shoppers know that it pays to shop around.  Visit lots of card exchange websites and see who will give you the greatest return on your gift cards.  If you'd prefer to check a lot of different sales sites at once, visit GiftCardio.com or Card Cash.  Both sites allows you to enter the vendor and value of the card in return they tell you what various sites will pay for that particular card.  

Be Smart- You'll need to enter the card vendor (Target, Starbucks, etc) and card value to get a quote  for your cards.  NEVER disclose the card number and PIN unless you're ready to sell the card.  Be careful of fraudsters!  The Card Number and PIN are all the information anybody needs to swipe the value on your cards.  Keep that information safe!
  
READ THE FINE PRINT!- Every card trade site has lots of fine print.  READ IT!  You don't want to lose part or all of your cards value  because you didn't read careful.

Check your Junk Mail - My eCard certificate came in to my junk mail folder.  Make sure you check there if you're waiting on information from one of these companies!

SUPER PRO TIPS:

Don't limit yourself to gift cards.  You can also sell/trade store credits!!!  So say you wait in line at the store and you are able to return that unwanted gift.  The only problem is that the store will only give you store credit.  YOU CAN TRADE/SELL STORE CREDITS!!!  eBay is a great way to sell store credits for a good return on the dollar!

Partial Gift Cards:  So grandma is extra generous this year and she gives you a $500 gift card to Bass Pro Shop.  That's great, only you live in a big city and you've never been bass fishing in your entire life.  You're able to spend $75.23 on long underwear but now you've got $424.77 on a gift card that you'll never use.  Sell or trade that odd ball amount!

New for 2016 - Instant Gift Cards!
CardCash has a new app that will allow you to buy gift cards instantly!  So say you're standing in line at CVS.  Launch the app and buy a CVS eGift card.  The app will provide you with a barcode for the cashier to scan.
Pro: Fast and easy
Con; MAKE SURE you purchase an eGift card and not a plastic card.  An eCard is available immediately.  A plastic card you'll need to wait for in the mail.  Also the reviews of this app are not great.  Read the reviews before you decide if this app is right for you.  

Card Cash App
 
ONE LAST TIP!
Before you sell your gift cards there's one more thing you HAVE TO do!  Check and see who else accepts that card.  Say you get a Banana Republic gift card.  You like BR, but you don't really shop there.  Check the website of the store.  Find the place where they talk about their gift cards.

Check store websites!!!!

By clicking the "learn more" tab on Banana Republic's website I discovered that I could use my BR card at Gap, Old Navy, The Options and Athleta!  Who KNEW!?  And why don't they advertise this!?

I won't spend $100 at BR but I would DEFINITELY spend that much and more at The Gap!

Other stores that accept my gift card!!!!
This little trick won't work for every store, but check because you never know!  By using the card at other stores you'll get the full value of the gift card!  That's a win for everybody!


Good luck and Happy Trading!

Check out More Tips and Tricks Here!

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