Admit it: gift cards are an easy out when Christmas and other holidays come around.
Got no idea what your nephew wants from his birthday? Chuck him a gift card. Worried that a friend will call you a Scrooge if you leave her off your list? Gift card to the rescue!
Here’s the problem: there’s a good chance that the gift card will go unused. At least they can drink out of that 147th mug, or achieve some sort of aesthetic value with that 17th snowman. If your beneficiary forgets all about that gift card, it’s just another chunk of plastic that’s taking up space in a drawer.
You’ve probably been on the receiving end of these plastic chunks as well. So what’s the best way to avoid this huge waste?
Easy Ways to Maximize Gift Cards
NPR offers some pretty straightforward solutions. The first one doesn’t require advanced calculus: just use the damn card!
Of course, the gift card may only be applicable to items that are not to your liking at all (in which case, you may have to question the gift-giving proficiency of the giver). In that case, you can choose to “re-gift” the card to some other person who’s celebrating an occasion. Or you can go Santa mode and donate the card to a charity.
These are way better prospects than having to add to the billions of dollars’ worth of unclaimed gift card value. Yes, you read that right: since 2005, billions (with a B) of dollars are sitting unused in the form of unused gift cards.
How to Get Creative with the Gift Card’s Value
But, if you’re not confident that the people receiving these re-gifted cards will optimize their use, there are a couple of other options.
For one, you can dispense with the re-gifting and instead resell your gift cards. Hey, if you’re going to be giving those cards away, you might as well get some value back, right?
U.S. News recently listed 8 sites that will buy your unused gift cards “close to their face value.” GiftCash gives you a payout between the high 80% range and the low 90% range. Clipkard uses a rewards system which lets you earn points for buying or selling gift cards. You’ll have to take note of certain prerequisites for other sites, though: for instance, Raise will only accommodate physical cards that have at least a $10 balance.
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On the other hand, you can trade your gift cards for… well, stuff that you actually like.
CardCash is a site that lets you swap unwanted gift cards for ones that will actually pique your interest. However, for the most part, the site only allows trades that involve gift cards with equivalent value. In some instances, though, you can get up to 7% more of your card’s value.
Also, did you know that you can trade gift cards from certain establishments for a Target card? If you happen to live near a participating Target store, you can get this swap done.
Whatever happens, don’t let the gift card just stow away in your wallet. Unused gift cards are about as valuable as coal in your stockings. Use them well!