First Person: What I Do with Unwanted Gift Cards

Like millions of people, I was given a gift card this past holiday season. While I always appreciate a gift, I’m not really a shopper at that particular store. So like millions of other people, I was left with a gift card that would never be used, be regifted or would be unhappily used for merchandise I didn’t really want. Then I heard about the possibility of exchanging the gift card.

I was listening to a report on the billions of dollars that go unused on gift cards every year. Fox News then ran a segment on what to do with unwanted gift cards. They mentioned several sites and tips on how to be sure you don’t run into a scam. I chose a site and it took me only a minute to create an account and log into the site.

Once logged in to the site you can browse their list of virtually every gift card available. You find yours and click on it. Then you select the amount of the card and click on “enter” to be given a price quote of what your card is worth to them. My card was for $50 to a department store. The quote I was given was $49.75. I’d lose a quarter in the deal but considering that it would take more than that to start my car for the drive to the nearest store, I accepted the deal. Interestingly, you can also submit partially used cards. This is great for people who have used some or most of some cards and don’t know what to do with the remaining balance.

The next step was to choose how to be paid. The choices available vary with each site but you can often choose from another gift card, payment to your paypal account or a check. I chose an electronic gift card with the payment added directly to my online account. You can then choose the option to print a mailing label along with the invoice; I did this.

The invoice instructed me to tape my gift card to the paper, fold it and secure it into a business sized envelope. The printed mailing label was attached to the front and included postage. All I had to do was seal the envelope and put it into the mail box.

I mailed it on the Wednesday before a holiday weekend. Despite that I was sent my confirmation email the following Tuesday. I logged into my account and navigated to my gift card page and clicked on the electronic gift card button. I was taken to the log in page on my store account and after logging into my account the gift card was instantly credited. There was no hassle involved at all. I was able to turn what would have been an otherwise useless card into my favorite version of cash. Because I do so much shopping at this particular site it made more sense to maximize my gift card there and use the cash I would have spent elsewhere.

As the news report pointed out, the average person receives $150 each Christmas in gift cards and billions of dollars go unused on them each year. This is a great way for me to take those cards and convert them into something I want.

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