Were You Given Any Unwanted Gift Cards Lately? Here's How to Cash In on Them

Consumers have several options for getting rid of gift cards they don't want

Were You Given Any Unwanted Gift Cards Lately? Here's How to Cash In on Them
Image: NCCC
February 17, 2017

Gift cards are the perfect go-to gift for the people in your life whom you don't know well or who are particular in what they buy. But what happens when you get a card to a store you never go to or that you can't use?

Don't worry! You've got several options for cashing in those unwanted cards. See below to find the right option for you!

  1. Return it to the retailer.
  2. This option might not always work, but it's still worth trying.

    You are most likely to be able to return the card to the retailer around the holidays, when some stores—like grocery stores—provide a short period of time during which you can return gift cards.

    However, there are some catches for most retailers willing to take cards back. Some will let you return it but will credit you on the original form of payment. Unless the person who gave it to you paid in cash, the money will go back on their card and their feelings may be hurt. Other places let you return gift cards if you have the original receipt but require you to call their 800 number and wait for them to send you a check.

  3. Donate it to charity.
  4. You may not know that you can donate unwanted gift cards to charity just like you can donate unwanted items.

    For instance, CardFunder converts new, partially-used, and unused gift cards into cash to help children worldwide. And Plywood takes unused cards and donates them to organizations that can use them in buying supplies for people in need.

    Some Goodwill locations will also accept gift cards, but it's a good idea to call first and find out if your local store is one of them.

  5. Sell it.
  6. There are also plenty of options available if you want to sell your card for extra cash.

    You can go to a Coinstar Exchange kiosk, scan an unused card valued over $20, and get an offer that is normally 60-85 percent of the balance. If you want to accept this offer, you can verify your identity and cashing out the voucher printed by the machine at the store's customer service desk.

    There may be a few drawbacks to this option: you have to trade in the voucher at the same store where the kiosk is located, and most of the time you have to do it on the same day.

    You can also sell the card online at sites like Card Cash, Cardpool, and Raise. You enter the card details and they make you an offer. When you accept, they verify the balance and process the request.

  7. Exchange it for travel points.
  8. You can trade in your gift cards to United Airlines in exchange for miles. Enter your card information on their website and it will show you how many miles it will add to your MileagePlus account for the card.

  9. Regift.
  10. Finally, you can simply give the card to someone who will actually use it. Be careful, though; some gift cards expire, and retailers may charge an inactivity fee to use them again.