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.Â 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 â€œbreakage,â€ the industryâ€™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:
“…letâ€™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.
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.
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.
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.