There is something about gift cards that seems to bring out our â€˜inner hoarder.â€™Â CardHub.comÂ estimates that Americans have racked up more than $44 billion in unredeemed gift-card value since 2008. The â€œsave it now, use it later,â€ mindset usually goes in a circle. Years can go by if we just stay on that merry-go-round. It may be in our better interests to be present, and realize that the power of gift cards extends far beyond the retailerâ€™s name youâ€™re seeing on the front of the card.
Here are three options for unused gift cards that can help you get out of debt, get what you want, or give to a cause of your choice.
- Exchange for cash: There are sites like CardPool.com, Raise.com, and CardHub.comÂ that allow you to get a cash offer for the value of your card. You can expect to get about 90% of the value back, and many of the sites have a minimum balance requirement of $25. GiftCardGranny.comÂ compares the offers of several potential buyers, allowing you to pick the best. You can â€œname your own priceâ€ by auctioning your card onÂ ebayÂ or craigslist. Again, this is money you can use to pay bills, pay down debtâ€”whatever you need the cash for.
- Â Exchange them for cards you want:Â Many of the sites that allow you to sell cards also offer an exchange option. There is a site calledÂ GiftCardSwapping.comÂ that will arrange for you to swap the card you have with someone who has the card you want.
- Donate their value to charity:Â There are sites likeÂ CharityGiftCertificates.orgÂ and Gift Card Giver by PlywoodPeople.comÂ that allow you to donate the entire or partial value of your card. Youâ€™ll get a tax receipt and can deduct the full amount of your donation.
Be sure that you know the value of your cardâ€”you can call the number on the back if youâ€™re notâ€”and be sure you’re selling, swapping, or trading with a reputable site and charity if youâ€™re donating. You can get a lot of information from a Google search, check with the Better Business Bureau, and useÂ CharityNavigator.orgÂ to check out your charity of choice.