The Untapped Value of Unused Gift Cards: How to Cash in on Unwanted Presents

The Untapped Value of Unused Gift Cards: How to Cash in on Unwanted Presents

Gift cards have become one of the most popular presents during the holiday season. However, a significant number of individuals end up with unused gift cards sitting in their drawers, gathering dust. According to a 2023 Bankrate survey, 47% of U.S. adults have at least one unused gift card, totaling a staggering $23 billion worth of unused balances nationwide. Rather than letting these gift cards go to waste, there are various avenues through which consumers can exchange them for cash or other valuable alternatives.

For many consumers, the idea of selling an unused gift card for cash might seem appealing. Several websites offer platforms where individuals can sell their unwanted cards and receive a portion of their face value in return. Examples of such websites include,, and These platforms operate on various financial models, with some paying a percentage of the card’s value, while others function similar to an eBay for gift cards. Although consumers may receive less than the full face value, it is still a viable option to convert these unused cards into usable funds.

One notable drawback of gift cards is that recipients often end up spending more than the card’s value while shopping. This tendency can result in a $100 gift card turning into a $118 total purchase, according to certified financial planner Ted Jenkin. Retailers capitalize on this behavior by heavily marketing gift cards, as they drive additional sales. The gift card market is projected to reach $2.3 trillion by 2030, demonstrating the significant impact of these cards on the retail industry.

If you find yourself with an unused gift card, there are several strategies to consider in order to make the most of its value. One option is to trade in the gift card to help pay down household debt or build up an emergency cash reserve. However, not all gift cards hold the same value, so it is advisable to compare prices on different websites to find the best deal. Ted Jenkin stresses the importance of doing some comparison shopping to ensure you receive the greatest return on your card.

While it may be tempting to use platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to sell or buy gift cards, caution is advised. There have been numerous reports of fraud and scams associated with these sites. Instead, it is recommended to exercise due diligence when transacting on alternative platforms. Before engaging in any transactions, consider checking the Better Business Bureau for any complaints against the service. Additionally, conducting a simple Google search with the site’s name and the word “scam” can provide valuable insights. It is also wise to look for a customer service phone number and verify its functionality. A disconnected number or full voicemail inbox can serve as red flags for potentially fraudulent platforms.

In addition to selling unused gift cards, there are other alternatives to consider. One option is to donate the gift cards to charity, allowing the funds to benefit those in need. Alternatively, regifting unwanted cards can be a thoughtful way to pass on a present to someone who may find it more useful. It is worth noting that some states have laws requiring retailers to provide cash back to consumers with partially used gift cards, albeit with certain financial thresholds and restrictions in place.

Unused gift cards hold untapped value that can benefit consumers in various ways. Rather than allowing them to go unused, individuals can explore options such as selling the cards for cash, donating them to charity, or regifting them to others. By being savvy and cautious in their approach, consumers can unlock the full potential of these often underutilized presents. Don’t let your unused gift cards gather dust – turn them into something valuable today.

Global Finance

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