What to do with Unwanted Gift Cards

4 Ways to Get Value from Them

Receiving a gift card to a store you’ll never go to is like being given a treasure chest without the key to unlock it. You know there’s value there, but you don’t know how to get at it.

If you’ve received such a gift card, you know what I mean. If you’ve given such a gift card, well, someone else knows what I mean. 🙂

Over $1 billion of gift card funds go unredeemed annually. Neither the giver nor the recipient desires such waste.

So the question becomes: How can you extract value from unwanted gift cards? Here are four suggestions:

4 Ways to Get Value from Unwanted Gift Cards

1. Use Them at a Sister Store You Like Better

Did you know that many gift cards can be used at other stores in the same “store family”? For instance, you can redeem Kmart gift cards not only at Kmart but at sister stores Sears and Land’s End as well (and vice versa). You can use Chili’s gift cards at On The Border, Macaroni Grill, and Maggiano’s (and vice versa). Carrabba’s gift cards can be used at Outback Steakhouse, Fleming’s, and Bonefish Grill (and vice versa).

That is not an exhaustive list, just some examples off the top of my head. Just Google “where can XYZ gift cards be used.” You may be happy to redeem your unwanted gift card to XYZ store at a sister store.

2. Sell Them

In most cases you can sell your gift card online. You will receive something less than face-value for it, of course. But you can still make out pretty well in many cases.

Prominent sites on which you can sell your gift card include CardCash, Raise, and CardpoolGift Card Granny is a nice one-stop shop. It will show the price you can get by selling your gift card on a number of different sites.

As one example, if you had a $100 Home Depot gift card, you could sell it in the $77-82 range. Not awesome, but $80 more awesome than it sitting in your desk drawer forever.

3. Use Them to Buy a Gift Card to a Totally Different Store

If the store to which you have a gift card has a gift card rack, it is possible in some cases to buy a gift card off that rack with your gift card. For example, some folks have reported on occasion being able to use a Sears gift card in-store to buy a gift card to somewhere else, like Amazon.

To see if this approach might work with your gift card, try searching this forum. There, people share their experience trying to use their gift card to buy a gift card to a different store. Be forewarned: the odds of success are low. Many stores’ cash registers are hard-coded against accepting a gift card as a form of payment for another gift card. Even when the registers allow it, cashiers still may not.

4. Give Them Away

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. By giving your unwanted gift card away, you can receive a different kind of value from monetary value: warm fuzzy feelings. 🙂 If you really want to outdo yourself, give the card to someone walking into the store whose unwanted gift card you have.

Lastly, the best thing to do when you receive an unwanted gift is, of course, to thank the giver and soldier on. Expressing genuine gratitude for an unhelpful, and maybe even unthoughtful, gift allows us to show that we care more about the giver then we do about any gift he or she may give us.

Question: What unwanted gift cards have you received in the past? What did you do with them? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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