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Flip Your Unwanted Gift Cards for Something Awesome

It’s the gift that keeps giving, but that doesn’t stop you from looking for the receipt.

Lisa Finnby Lisa Finn

Two emotions are attached to the gift cards you got at the holidays: stoked and pissed.

If granny gets you the Amazon.com gift card you wanted for some new sneakers, you’re amped. If she takes matters into her own hands and orders up $50 from Omaha Steaks, you’re screwed. Just be grateful she sent it snail mail and you didn’t have to thank her in person. Because “What the fuck were you thinking, grandma?” is really mean.

So you start weighing your options and it goes something like this:

  1. Re-gift it to a colleague: Fine, unless the amount on the card is lower than the good stuff on the site. You’re giving granny a pass for this, but people at work will just tack on “bad gift-giver” to the other list of things they hate about you.
  2. Dump it on a friend: Tread lightly here. If your friend is on the young-ish side and lives near his parents, he can get a filet dinner in two seconds by simply calling his parents and saying, “I need some advice on something.”
  3. Give it to your wife: Be warned. If all she can purchase is a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a bottle of steak rub, she’s not really off the hook for dinner. And now she has a bone to pick with you . . . and it won’t be the one on your body.

See how this works? It doesn’t! So that’s where we offer up option number four. You either swap your steak card for a new gift certificate or sell it for cash. Here’s how:

Walk over to Walmart

Get off your high horse; you can do it online. Simply type in the unwanted gift card’s information and it will enlighten you to the amount it’s willing to give. If you accept, you’ll receive Walmart credit in your email within 24 hours. You can either use it on their website or bring it into the store. Sure, you can browse the electronics section, but don’t dismiss your awesome new gift card so soon when it comes to grooming. There are all kinds of shaving essentials, hair styling products and blemish reducers with your name on them. 

Cash in

A site like Gift Cards.com will buy your unwanted gift cards and deposit the funds directly into your PayPal account, while Gift Card Rescue will cut a check to you within two business days of receiving your card. Both are at a slightly lower rate, but well worth the effort. A quicker option, however, is to visit a Coinstar Exchange kiosk in your area. Simply scan or input the card’s information, and it will spit out the money within seconds. They accept cards from more than 150 retailers and usually pay out between 60- to 85-percent of the face value. Now, with all the new cash spilling out of your pocket, we think you should get the most for your money. Shop a bevy of new arrivals for $19.99 at the Banana Republic Factory Store or a visit to H & M where they have a dedicated section with the latest styles for under $10.

Do a trade

Log in to a site like CardPool and trade the card for an Amazon.com gift card. That’s great for starters, but then you can also get cash for your unwanted gift card and buy a gift card of your choice at a slightly lower amount. They have every clothing and shoe retailer from Athletica to Armani Exchange and, if you choose to mail the unwanted card in, you’ll even get a slightly higher rate than if you did it online. Or get rid of your dumb card by using your smart phone. Download Raise, a free iOS app, and then decide what you want to sell your gift card for. The company will alert you when someone buys it.

Now imagine you’re in Footlocker and the very same sneaks you were hoping to score with an Amazon card are right in front of you. Simply open the app and buy Footlocker credit for the money you just made. Ditching that Omaha card just became a seriously delicious deal!

For next holiday, however, call granny and drop some hints as to the stores you like. Then you won’t have to jump through hoops to get the basketball shoes you want. Just sayin.’