Don’t Toss Them: Smart Ways to Deal with Those Unwanted or Unusable Gift Cards

gift cards

If you’ve received a gift card that you know you’re not going to use, or if you’ve had a gift card sat in your wallet collecting dust for several months, don’t just waste it. Experts advise that around 10 to 15% of all gift cards are being left unredeemed, which equates to $6 to $9 billion dollars! That’s a lot of money that consumers are wasting, and a lot of easy cash that retailers are making.

However, there are a number of ways you can make sure your next gift card doesn’t go to waste:

Return It

One of the most straightforward ways of getting rid of an unwanted gift card is to go straight back to the retailer to have it refunded. Unfortunately, some issuers won’t accept this or they’ll make it very difficult for customers to do this.

For example, the retailer may accept an exchange of the card for cash but they may do this at a rate that’s discounted, i.e. 90% of the value of the gift card. Or, they may refuse the return of the card unless you can show them the purchase receipt. And, of course, this can be incredibly awkward if you have to go back to the person who bought you the gift card in the first place.

Sometimes, you may receive a credit to use in-store, which isn’t going to be much use if the reason you didn’t want the gift card in the first place was because you don’t shop at that particular store.

Give the Card to Someone Else

Instead of letting your card go to waste, and if you’re not happy with the refund being offered by the issuer, why not give it to someone else as a gift? If you know someone who shops at the store you have the gift card for, it makes for the perfect present. It also saves you having to buy them a present, thus equaling out the money you’re losing by not spending the gift card.

Donate It to Charity

If you find that the gift card you’ve received is of absolutely no use to you at all, you may find that a local charity will be able to use it. This way, your unwanted card isn’t going to waste and is going to be used by a worthwhile cause instead.

Use It to Buy Saleable Items

The gift card you’ve received may not appeal to you but the merchandise the store sells is likely to appeal to others. So, why not buy a popular item that the store has and sell it on to make back some of your money? This is even more ideal if you manage to pick up a sale item! Even though you might not get the full value of the card back, you will be getting some money back, which is better than not using the card at all.

Exchange It for Cash

Due to the number of wasted gift cards, there are a number of companies that are offering recipients the chance to get cash for their cards (see Cards2Cash details). Not only does this provide you with somewhere you can get cash for your unwanted gift cards but it’s also a great place to pick up gift cards at a reduced rate! You will find that some gift cards are more sought after than others but if you don’t mind taking a little less than the monetary value of your card, this is a great way to get some cash for an otherwise useless gift.

Sell or Exchange with Family and Friends

With so many wasted cards lying around, you’ll probably find that a family member or friend of yours has one that they’re not using either. So, find out who’s got what and see if anyone would like to exchange their gift card with yours (just try to remember not to ask the person who gave you the gift card in the first place!).

Alternatively, if you know someone who shops regularly in the shop you’ve got the gift card for; why not ask them if they want to spend it? If you’re feeling generous, you could even offer them it at a discounted rate!

One thing’s for sure – if you’ve received a gift card for a store you don’t shop in, don’t hold onto the card in the hope that you will spend it one day. This will probably never happen, so, just get rid of unwanted gift cards as soon as you receive them.

[info_box type=”pale_box”]Erin Hammond is a frugal and feisty Mama of 3. She writes about parenting, money matters and occasionally some DIY topics for various sites around the web.[/info_box]

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