How can we glean value from unused gift cards? That’s an important question, considering more than $44 billion in gift cards have gone unredeemed since 2005, according to TowerGroup research.
CardHub – the only marketplace that allows you to sell ANY gift card, regardless of denomination or store affiliation – has come up with a list of 5 Valuable Uses for Unwanted Gift Cards in order to help people make efficient use of their money as well as pay off some of the roughly $33.4 billion in new credit card debt that we added to our tab in 2013. You can check them out below, along with commentary from CardHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou.
Sell Them for Cash: An online gift card exchange enables consumers to sell gift cards for cash and fetch up to 95 cents on the dollar in return. CardHub’s gift card exchangeis the only one that allows you to sell any gift card you wish at any price without charging any fees. The ability to sell to individuals or respected gift card companies also increases your chances of finding a buyer.
Odysseas Papadimitriou (OP): “While many people simply don’t realize you can sell unwanted gift cards online for cash, others are discouraged from doing so for one or more of the following reasons: 1) their card is not affiliated with a major national retailer and therefore will not be accepted by an online gift card exchange; 2) they’ve used some of the card’s funds and an unusual denomination remains; 3) they have store credit instead of an actual gift card; 4) they don’t want to give up any value to middle men. There’s no reason to worry about those things if you use CardHub’s gift card exchange, which means you’ll be able to put any gift card you might find lying around the house to good use.”
Re-gift: The holiday season isn’t the only time people give gift cards. In fact, holiday sales only account for around a quarterof the gift card market’s annual sales. So, if you think an unwanted gift card has someone else’s name written all over it, why not hang onto it, re-gift, and save the time, money and energy you would have expended looking for another present? Most stores allow you to trade in old gift cards for new ones, so there is no need to worry about giving a card bearing outdated branding.
(OP): “You don’t need to personally use or sell a gift card for cash to get value from it. Simply giving it to a friend or family member who likes the particular store more than you is a great way to both unload an old, wanted gift card and avoid having to spend money on a new gift. The recipient never has to know that you were given the card, instead of buying it yourself. You can typically trade in an old card for the latest styles, and the money they spend will be just as real. So, before trashing a card or selling it at a steep discount, it’s worth checking out your friends’ gift card wish lists as well as doing a pass through your mental Rolodex to see if you know anyone who might enjoy the card. You can kill two birds with one stone.”
Pay Down Debt: The average household owes roughly $6,700 to credit card companies. And while we’re starting to rack up debt at a slower pace, we still added more than $30 billion to our tab in 2013 and are on pace to do the same this year. Any extra money that can be allocated to building an emergency fund or paying down debt should therefore be welcomed, and you can sell unwanted gift cards for cash through a gift card exchange such as that offered by CardHub.
(OP): “According to CardHub’s latest data, the average household has around $360 in unused gift cards lying around and $6,700 in unpaid credit card debt. A credit card calculator will show you that cashing in your gift cards could therefore provide you with the first monthly payment in a 24-month plan for becoming debt free.”
Swap Them: CardHub offers the only gift card exchange that incorporates Facebook, thereby allowing consumers to simply swap gift cards with friends, neighbors or colleagues if they so choose.
(OP): “Finding a willing partner for a gift card trade is a great way to turn an unwanted gift into something that you desire without sacrificing value. Simply use your social network to find someone who likes the gift card you have and has a comparable gift card from one of your favorite stores.”
Donate to charity: Charity organizations usually accept donations in a variety of forms, which may include gift cards. Even if a particular charity will not accept a gift card, you can always redeem it and donate the resulting goods.
(OP): “If you’re looking to unload an unused gift card, your holiday season has yet to conclude, so why not stay in the holiday spirit and give to a good cause? Besides the obvious benefit of helping others, this donation will be tax deductible!”
(Obvious) Bonus Tip: If the above options don’t work for you, simply using your gift card is always a possibility, especially since you’ll be hard pressed to find a store from which you want or need nothing. You see, almost all stores carry the essentials for their genre. For example, all clothing stores will have socks, all electronics stores will have headphones, and all hardware stores will have light bulbs.
(OP): “Using a gift card for the sake of using it is a waste of money, but if you haven’t been able to get rid of an unwanted card for quite some time, then it might be the best remaining course of action. Having something is better than having nothing, after all. The one thing you need to watch out for is overspending because you’re using a gift card. Roughly two-thirds of consumers spend more than the value of their gift card, and you don’t want to make an already sub-optimal strategy worse.”
Image: Fabio Berti/Shutterstock