Many people wonder how they can get cash for gift cards. This usually comes up when they receive a gift card as a present. The gift card is to a place they don’t shop or have no interest in shopping.
Or, people may be wondering “who buys used gift cards” or about how to get cash for gift cards. This usually happens when they’re looking to put more money back in their budget. When money is tight, exchanging unwanted or unused gift cards for money makes a lot of sense.
In this blog post I’m going to address three solutions related to the notion of cash for gift cards. First, I’ll remind you how to make the most of gift cards you already own. Next, I’ll review places that give you cash for gift cards, when you’re looking to sell them. Finally, I’ll offer suggestions on what you can do with those unwanted gift cards when selling them for cash is not an option.
Get the most from gift cards you already own
I understand that you likely landed on this blog post because you wanted to find places to exchange gift cards for money. And I’ll get to that. But first let me share three tips on how you can make the most from the gift cards you already own. One of these tips includes how to direct deposit that gift card as cash in your bank account. Yes, that’s possible.
Register your card for extra perks.
When you get a Starbucks gift card, it makes sense to register it right away so you can participate in the My Starbucks Rewards program. When you register the card, you’ll get a freebie. You can also upload the gift card to the Starbucks app and reload it that way, too.
Because you have to include your birth date during registration, Starbucks will send you another freebie on that special day. (Here is my list of 21 birthday freebies.) And then every time you pay with that card, you’ll earn rewards points, which will add up to free food and free drink down the road.
Remind yourself how much is on each gift card
If you were to look in my wallet right now, you would see a gift card in there. Written on the back in Sharpie is this: $12.80. That’s because the last time I went to that store and used my gift card, I wasn’t buying enough stuff to use up the whole amount. The receipt told me I had $12.80 left on the gift card so I wrote it on the back. This simple gift card hack helps you remember how much is left on a gift card so you can use it up smartly.
While some retailers can handle the notion of “partial purchases” with gift cards, others cannot. And if you can’t make a purchase for that “$12.80,” then using up the remaining balance could become a problem. Which is why using the entire amount on your gift card the first time you’re using it can often be the best way to get the most from a gift card.
Deposit the gift card amount in the bank
Believe it or not there are certain gift cards, often in the form of a debit card that you receive as a reward for a purchase, that you can deposit directly into your bank account. I usually get these after buying my dog’s flea and/or heartworm medicine at the vet.
I learned this the hard way. For the longest time, I would try to use these gift cards (usually a VISA-branded debit gift card) to buy gas or groceries. But each time I would swipe it and even after the instructions for use at retailers, the card would be reject. Finally, one day I read the fine print on the back and discovered the bank deposit option, which is what I did.
Get cash for gift cards from these places
By some estimates Americans end up leaving $1 billion (with a B) worth of store credit, via gift cards, unused because of gift cards they don’t want or can’t use. That’s just ridiculous. Imagine how much you could have bought–or cash you could have received–from these unused gift cards. That’s why I’m offering these three places you can go to get cash–or a gift card you actually do want–for your unwanted gift cards.
A few years back, the folks at Coinstar Exchange asked me to try out their gift card-buying kiosk. This is something you do in person at a local supermarket and can get cash for gift cards on the spot. This is if you don’t mind going to the store in person to cash in your gift cards.
I was already familiar with the Coinstar brand. They’re the green coin-counting machines you find in supermarkets. Our family uses them all the time for counting up and cashing in spare change we’ve found around the house. In fact, my younger daughter uses Coinstar regularly to get gift cards (albeit a printed receipt that doubles as a gift card) to her favorite retailers, most recently Sephora. I knew that Coinstar had some skin in the gift card-buying business, but I’d never tried it out for myself.
Coinstar Exchange is now Cardpool
FYI, Coinstar Exchange is now owned by Cardpool. But from what I can tell, it is still a legit place to cash in your gift cards. In fact, the process of getting cash for your gift cards is still exactly the same. This is how it worked for me–and how it still works with Cardpool.
To start I touched the screen and it prompted me to scan the back of my gift card. Next the screen asked me to identify the gift card’s retail name on the front. Next, it asked me for the PIN on the back of the card.
Cash in gift cards at Coinstar
After verifying the card, it needed to verify me. That meant I had to scan my drivers license, enter my zip code, then my phone number and finally my email so I could get a receipt for my transaction. Finally, I got the offer for my $25 gift card. The kiosk offered $15.63.
After accepting the offer, Iinserted my gift card as the screen directed and printed a receipt for $15.63. I took the receipt to supermarket’s customer service desk, and they cashed it out for me.
As far as the cash value, I’ll admit that I don’t love getting a little more than $15 in my pocket for a gift card whose face value is $25. But again, if it’s a gift card you’re never going to use or can’t regift and whose value is, in essence, $0 to you, getting a percentage of that value to put in your wallet as cash is better than no money at all.
You probably know Raise.com as a place where you can buy discounted gift cards. But did you know that Raise is also a place to get cash for gift cards? I didn’t until I started looking into writing this blog post.
Next, set the selling price you want for your card. It’s free to list cards for thousands of brands. I would recommend not being too greedy in how you set your price. As someone who sells a lot of things on resale sites like Poshmark, I know that people who buy something “used” are looking for a deal. So maybe start your pricing at 10% less than the full value of the card and see how it goes.
Finally, once your card sells, Raise.com will send the money directly to you. You can receive the cash as a direct deposit to your bank account, into your PayPal or sent to you via snail mail as a check.
One last thing: I’d mentioned that many people use Raise.com to buy discounted gift cards. If you’re new to Raise, you can take $5 off already discounted gift cards with a purchase of $25 or more for first time users. Just use code NEW5RAISEAF at checkout. (I wonder if Raise realizes what AF stands for!)
Giftcards.com and GiftCardMall
Like Raise, Giftcards.com and GiftCardMall are both online marketplaces for buying gift cards at a discount. As far as selling gift cards and getting cash for gift cards you no longer want, Giftcards.com and GiftCardMall both work with Cardpool for those sales.
While I can vouch for the in-person experience of using the Coinstar Exchange, now Cardpool Exchange, kiosk to get cash for my gift cards, I have no experience using the online version of Cardpool.
When you can’t get cash for gift cards
If you find it is impossible to get cash for gift cards you’re looking to sell, don’t lose hope. I have some additional tips of how you can make the most of those unwanted gift cards. In some instances you might still be able to make a little money from them but not in a way you might have expected. Here are three additional tips on what to do with unwanted gift cards.
Regift unwanted gift cards
I know some people frown on the notion of regifting all together. I have no problem with the practice. Because if you received something that you think someone else will love even more, why not give it to them as a gift?
So if you have a gift card or gift cards that are sitting unused, why not regift them to someone who might enjoy them? It will save you money in having to buy this person a gift. Of course, the one caveat with regifting gift cards is this: make sure the gift cards has 100% of its value on it.
Also, make sure the gift card was actually activated. Both of my daughter have been on the receiving end of gift cards that were never activated. They took them to Target–they were Target gift cards, obviously–went to use them to pay for something, and were told that the cards had never been activated. So, in essence, they received a worthless gift that they just had to toss in the trash.
Buy items you can resell for cash
I’d mentioned earlier how I like to resell items on sites like Poshmark. Well, if I had a gift card to a retailer whose wares are popular on Poshmark, I could use that gift card to make some cash for myself. Here’s what I’d do.
First, I’d research which kinds of clothing or accessories from that retailer people liked to buy on Poshmark. Then, I’d use that gift card to buy items I plan to resell. Finally, once they arrived, I would photograph them and put them up for sale, as new with tags, on Poshmark.
So, it’s a roundabout way of getting cash for that gift card. But in the end, if the items sell, it would have worked.
Finally, if you’re interested in signing up for Poshmark, use my link and be sure to enter the code SUDDENLYFRUGAL. That will get you $10 off your first purchase on the site.
Donate the gift card to a charitable silent auction
Have you ever gone to a fundraising event where there are gift cards up for bidding? Chances are someone donated those gift cards to help the charity raise money.
Like regifting, I would only recommend this strategy if you know that the gift card you are donating has 100% of its value on the card. Also, check with your accountant if you can receive a tax deduction for this donation. While that doesn’t put cash directly in your pocket, it could lower your tax liability for that year.