You would think that if someone is going to take the easy-out and give you a gift card for a holiday, birthday or wedding, they would at least get you a gift card to a place you actually have some interest in.  And yet, now that Christmas is over, you find yourself staring at a pile of giftcards for Bob’s Artificial Organ Transplants & Taco Stand. What to do, what to do? As always, the intarwebs can help.

Here’s the skinny…. Most retailers love when people buy giftcards, because the vast majority are never actually used. Best Buy, for instance, earned $16 million in 2006 in gift-card “breakage,” the industry’s term for card value that was bought but never redeemed.” According to a 2007 article in the New York Times about the economy of the giftcard:

“…let’s just say there is good reason that they are known within the retail industry as a stored-value product: they store their value very well, and often permanently. The financial-services research firm TowerGroup estimates that of the $80 billion spent on gift cards in 2006, roughly $8 billion will never be redeemed…”

There are several giftcard buy/sell/exhange sites out there that enable you to buy, sell or trade your unwanted giftcards. The most well established of these sites is Cardavenue, which even offers a degree of buyer’s assurance. At Cardavenue, gift card swap and auction transactions are protected by Cardcowboy balance verification on most cards valued at over $100. For gift cards valued less than $100 all transactions are secured with a $10 deductible.

Buying Cards

If you’re in the market to buy, you get the best deal of all. You can find amazing deals on gift cards discounted anywhere from a few bucks to 50% of their actual balance.

Trading Cards

The concept here is simple – exchange the card you don’t want for a card of the same value for a store you do want. If you have a card to get rid of, this will often be your best deal, since you can exchange your card with another card of the same value, whereas selling or auctioning your card will generally mean you have to sell it for lower-than-card-value.

Selling Cards

If you want to ditch your crappy giftcard for cold, hard cash, you can simply put it up for auction. As mentioned above, you will generally have to sell it for less than the value of the card, but considering you didn’t pay for it in the first place and would probably have just let it expire, its found money – and in this economy, who doesn’t need some of that? If you’re not up for auctioning, GiftCardExchange and SwapAGift will pay you 65% of your gift card value.

Where to Buy/Sell/Trade Gift Cards

While Cardavenue is certainly one place you can go (and arguably the most well-established and stable), there are a handful of sites doing this kind of thing:

Have you salvaged a crummy giftcard using one of these services, and bought something you actually wanted? Share your experience in the comments.

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I’m a tech geek/dev/infosec-nerd/scuba diver/blacksmith/sword-fighter/crime fighter/ENTP/warcrafter/activist. I'm the CTO at Mass Mosaic and the CEO of Grokability, Inc. in San Diego, CA. Tweet at me @snipeyhead or read more...

  • Sam

    heh, it’s funny i came across this post, cuz just yesterday got a canadian tire gift card from giftah.com (not w/o surprises but their tech support is amazing) for more than 60 bucks less than its face value… pretty good deal in my books even though i wouldn’t say CT is the cheapest store down here 🙁

  • Sam

    heh, it’s funny i came across this post, cuz just yesterday got a canadian tire gift card from giftah.com (not w/o surprises but their tech support is amazing) for more than 60 bucks less than its face value… pretty good deal in my books even though i wouldn’t say CT is the cheapest store down here 🙁

  • Fred

    Nice, I had a good experience with them as well. Picked up an iTunes card. I only saved seven bucks but since the code can be e-mailed it did not take long. I love the auction format on Giftah, it makes it a lot easier to pick up huge savings when someone is in a hurry to sell.

  • Fred

    Nice, I had a good experience with them as well. Picked up an iTunes card. I only saved seven bucks but since the code can be e-mailed it did not take long. I love the auction format on Giftah, it makes it a lot easier to pick up huge savings when someone is in a hurry to sell.

  • I’ve had two barnes and noble gift cards for two years now… if they still work i’m going to use them tomorrow.
    .-= Steffan´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  • I’ve had two barnes and noble gift cards for two years now… if they still work i’m going to use them tomorrow.
    .-= Steffan´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  • Bostongirl

    Hello! Please note that cardavenue, which you pronounced as “most stable”, is out of business. I guess I won’t rely on your info!

  • Bostongirl

    Hello! Please note that cardavenue, which you pronounced as “most stable”, is out of business. I guess I won’t rely on your info!

  • @Bostongirl – If you bothered to check the date on this blog post, it was posted in January 2009, 9 months ago. There was certainly no reason to be so rude about it, especially when the post is old. Companies go out of business all the time. Welcome to the Internet. Being a bitch on a blog post isn’t going to stop that from happening.

    Additionally, it doesn’t look like they’re out of business yet – they’re seeking additional funding. The letter they have posted is:

    “Cardavenue.com has been affected by the funding limitations occurring in this prolonged recession. It has affected our ability to provide the service our users have come to rely upon. Therefore, we regrettably postponed online operations August 18th, 2009. This will allow management time to find a buyer or seek additional funds. For the safety of our users, all pending transactions, trades and auctions have been suspended. This information cannot be accessed and remains safe. Current members will be able to access MyCA in a limited fashion and you will have limited access to customer service.”

    Will they go under? Could be. Either way, you might want to watch your tone when replying to people’s posts. There are several other services listed in the post that you are welcome to try. Or don’t.

  • @Bostongirl – If you bothered to check the date on this blog post, it was posted in January 2009, 9 months ago. There was certainly no reason to be so rude about it, especially when the post is old. Companies go out of business all the time. Welcome to the Internet. Being a bitch on a blog post isn’t going to stop that from happening.

    Additionally, it doesn’t look like they’re out of business yet – they’re seeking additional funding. The letter they have posted is:

    “Cardavenue.com has been affected by the funding limitations occurring in this prolonged recession. It has affected our ability to provide the service our users have come to rely upon. Therefore, we regrettably postponed online operations August 18th, 2009. This will allow management time to find a buyer or seek additional funds. For the safety of our users, all pending transactions, trades and auctions have been suspended. This information cannot be accessed and remains safe. Current members will be able to access MyCA in a limited fashion and you will have limited access to customer service.”

    Will they go under? Could be. Either way, you might want to watch your tone when replying to people’s posts. There are several other services listed in the post that you are welcome to try. Or don’t.

  • colema18

    Not to Necro-post but I stumbled on this post through google and wanted to help BostonGirl out and recommend recarded.com. The advantage of this site is that you get cash for your cards the next business day, you never have to mail in your gift cards, and you can sell partially used cards. In addition, you can buy discounted gift cards, or, if they aren't in stock, pre-order them. Highly recommended!

  • Heh – necro-post – that's a good one 😀 Great recommendation, thanks!

  • colema18

    Not to Necro-post but I stumbled on this post through google and wanted to help BostonGirl out and recommend recarded.com. The advantage of this site is that you get cash for your cards the next business day, you never have to mail in your gift cards, and you can sell partially used cards. In addition, you can buy discounted gift cards, or, if they aren't in stock, pre-order them. Highly recommended!

  • Heh – necro-post – that's a good one 😀 Great recommendation, thanks!

  • I suggest abcgiftcards.com is best website for online buying,selling of gift cards at cheapest price.

  • awesome information, thanks

  • Jim Baxton

    You can also try GiftCardBin

    It's a great new site with a very simple “BUY” “SELL” system in place. I love it!