How can consumers put unredeemed gift cards to use? That’s certainly an important question in light of the National Retail Federation’s estimate that roughly $2 billion in gift cards went unredeemed in 2012, bringing the total since 2005 to $43 billion. Gift cards were also more popular than ever this past holiday season, as the average person spent $156.86 on them and total sales approached $29 billion.
In order to help people get the most out of their money and avoid adding even more to the record amounts of debt we’ve been racking up lately, Card Hub – the only marketplace that allows you to sell ANY gift card, regardless of denomination or store affiliation – today released its list of 5 ways to use unwanted gift cards, which is accompanied below by insights from Card Hub’s founder and CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou:
- Sell them for cash: An online gift card exchange enables consumers to sell gift cardsfor cash and fetch up to 95 cents on the dollar in return. Considering that we ended the year with roughly $36 billion more credit card debt than we started with, according to Card Hub data, some extra cash could certainly come in handy.Odysseas Papadimitriou (OP):“While many people simply don’t know that you can sell unwanted gift cards online for cash, others are discouraged from doing so for one or more of the following four 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 these things if you use Card Hub’s gift card exchange, as it is the only one that allows you to sell any gift card you wish for 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.”
Re-gift: People don’t only give gift cards during the holiday season. They’re actually among the most popular types of presents for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions throughout the year as well. In fact, holiday gift card sales generally represent only about a quarter of the total annual sales. You’ll therefore have ample opportunity to give an unwanted gift card to someone else who may like it more than you.
(OP): “You know what your friends and family members like, and even if you aren’t quite sure you can reference their gift card wish list. 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 that bears outdated branding.”
Pay down debt: During tough economic times, help making ends meet may be in higher demand than new clothes, music or whatever else one may purchase directly with a gift card. Selling an unwanted gift card in order to help pay the bills is therefore a good example of using holiday presents for the things that really matter.
(OP): “According to Card Hub’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: Card Hub 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 physical 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.”