What To Do With Gift Cards You Don’t Want

It's time to cash in on your unwanted gift cards!

Gift Cards
Flickr | 401(K) 2013

Gift cards are the perfect present for those hard-to-buy-for people in your life. They’re an easy buy and allow the recipients to choose what they like, which is why the little plastic cards have become one of the seasons most popular choices for gift giving.

But let’s say you received a gift card to a store you’ve never even stepped foot in. Or you received a card to the best burger joint in town when you’re a vegetarian—then what do you do?

If this sounds like a situation you’re currently facing, don’t fret. There’s several great options so you can cash in on those unwanted cards.

1. Return The Card To The Retailer

While this may not work in every situation, it’s still worth checking out.

Your best chance of being able to return a gift card to the retailer is if it’s around the holidays, when some stores, such as grocery stores, offer a short window of time where you’re able to return the cards.

However, there are some catches that apply for most of the retailers that are willing to actually take them back. For example, some stores like Old Navy will allow you return the gift card, but will credit you with the original form of payment. Unless you hit the jackpot and the card was paid for with cash, you run the risk of not only losing out by having the money returned to the gift-giver’s credit card, and you could hurt some feelings in the process.

Other places such as Starbucks, will allow you to return the gift card if you have the original receipt. But there’s even a catch to that. You’d need to call their 800 number and then wait for the company to cut you a check.

2. Donate your gift cards to charity

If you feel like being charitable, you’d be surprised to know you can donate unwanted gift cards to charity just like you would those unwanted items around your house.

CardFunder is an innovative giving program that converts new, unused or partially used gift cards into cash to help children around the world. Working with websites like Cardpool, after entering your gift card details online, the company can then cash the card out and send the value from the gift card to your charity of choice through CardFunder.

Another similar site is Plywood, which also has a Gift Card Giver program. Taking your unused gift cards, they donate them to organizations that can use them to buy supplies for people in need. All you need to do is just write the balance directly on the gift card and send it to: Gift Card Giver PO Box 17920 Atlanta, GA 30316

Some Goodwill locations also accepts gift cards, but you might want to call first to ensure your Goodwill is one of the stores accepting them.

US News

3. Sell Them for Extra Cash

If you rather just have the extra cash, there are plenty of options for you to sell your unwanted gift cards.

Coinstair has Exchange kiosks where you can go in, scan your unused gift cards valued over $20, and they’ll make you an offer which is typically 60-85 percent of the card’s balance. If you’re okay with the offer, you can accept it by verifying your identity and cashing out the printed voucher the machine will give you by taking it to the store’s customer service desk.

Though a few drawbacks may be that you have to trade in the voucher at the same store you used the kiosk in, and most of the time it’s required that you do it on the same day.

If you’d rather sell your unwanted gift card online, there are plenty of gift card exchange sites like Card CashCardpool, or Raise. By entering your card details, the companies will make you an offer and once you accept, they’ll verify the balance and process your request.

While some websites will transfer your money to you via PayPal, your best option for fast cash would be the Coinstar Exchange option.

4. Swap Them for Travel Points

United Airlines has a program that lets you trade in your unwanted gift cards for miles. After entering your gift card info on their website, they’ll in return show you how many miles they’ll add to your MileagePlus account in exchange for the card.

According to Life Hacker, here’s an average amount of miles you’ll receive for typical gift card amounts:

$25 gift card: minimum of 670 miles

$50 gift card: minimum of 1,330 miles

$100 gift card: minimum of 2,660 miles

USA Today

5. Regift Them 

You could just give the card away to someone who’d actually use it, but you’ll want to be careful if you decide to go this route. Some gift cards can expire and with others, the retailer may charge an inactivity fee to use the card again.

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