7 Simple Ways to Make the Most of Unused Gift Cards

Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end, gift cards make great gifts. The gift card industry is worth an estimated $60 billion. Some experts say that 10% – 15% of gift cards are never redeemed, which equals billion dollars in unused funds.

A couple weeks ago, while I was cleaning out my wallet, I found several gift cards with money still on them. And while a few of them may only have a small balance, I definitely don’t want to waste it. So, here’s some options to make the most of unused gift cards.

1. Put them up for auction

Unused or unwanted gift cards can be sold online. Besides listing them on eBay, there are lots of other options and you won’t have to mess with selling and shipping the cards yourself. After doing some research online I decided to use Card Cash to resell one of my unused cards.

They offered me the highest bid and deposited my funds into my Paypal account within 2 days. You can choose to give them the gift card number and pin online, or print out a free shipping label with instructions to mail in the physical card.

2. Add to an Amazon account

If you receive a Mastercard or Visa gift card, it’s basically the same as cash. But if you have multiple cards with small amounts, sometimes it’s inconvenient to redeem them all at once. As an alternative, you can use them to a credit towards your Amazon account.

All you have to do is act like you’re purchasing an Amazon gift card via email, put in the information from your unused gift card as payment, and you’ve transferred your balance to your Amazon account.

3. Donate or give them to charity

There are some great benefits to donating a gift card, like the tax write-off, giving to a worthwhile cause and the convenience. Before making a donation to charity you’ll need to research what charities accept gift cards and if they require a minimum balance.

At DonateMyCard.com they take small balances of just a few dollars from pre-paid cards issued by American Express, Visa and Mastercard. The site does take a 20-30% cut of donations less than $10. GiftCardGiver accepts donations of gift cards and gives them to non-profit organizations to help benefit others in need.

4. Exchange or trade them

In addition to auctioning off your unwanted gift cards, you can choose to sell or exchange them. CardAvenue is a gift card registry where consumers can make a wish list of the unused gift cards they want to trade. You can also share the wish lists with family members and friends.

Here’s how it works: If you have a $50 Wal-Mart gift card, but you would rather have a $50 Target card, then include those cards in your wish list. Other traders will browse the site, and if they have the card you’re looking for and want the unused card you’re offering, you might be able to make a trade. The site does receive a commission on all trades.

5. Redeem for travel miles

This option particularly enticing for travel lovers like me. Some airline companies like United-Continental, offer gift card exchanges for members of the frequent-flier program.

There’s over 85 retailers to select from, and after entering your gift card with a balance of $25 or more, you will receive a credit of flier miles into your MileagePlus account.

6. Use with coupons + discounts

Not all retailers allow coupon stacking (using multiple coupons in a single transaction) but many will allow you to combine coupons or rebates with gift cards. Do a quick search online for coupons and cash back to maximize the balance on your gift card.

7. Thoughtfully re-gift them

While some people may not like the thought of re-gifting, it’s still a smart, money-saving option. Gift cards with a large balances on them can be split into several cards with smaller balances.

You can avoid any awkwardness by asking the retailer to trade a holiday-themed card for a different theme you need, like a birthday card or baby shower card. Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t re-gift the exact same card, with a relative or friend at the same gathering.

Don’t let your unwanted gift cards sit around collecting dust. Instead, make them work for you and use these tips to get the most of unwanted cards.

What do you typically do with unwanted gift cards? Do you have any other ideas as to not let the money go to waste?

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