Personal Finance

Got a Gift Card You Don’t Want? Sell It – and Pocket the Cash

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Americans love getting gift cards as presents. But what they do with them is up in the air.

According to the Javelin Research 2010 Prepaid and Gift Card Market Report, 56% of Americans have used a gift card in the past year.

In addition, Javelin estimates that the gift card market will triple by 2014.

“Gift cards are flourishing,” said Mary Monahan, Managing Partner and Research Director at Javelin. “Government regulations that restrict gift card fees and expiration dates favor consumers and are vital to building the trust that can build adoption and use. Lower costs and enhanced functionality are luring consumers back and boosting the volume and dollar value of cards they purchase.”

But not everyone uses their gift cards – The Tower Group estimates that consumers lost $5.8 billion on unused gift cards in 2009, either from misplacing them, or missing card purchase deadlines (some states, like California, mandate that gift cards have no expiration date).

Consequently, there’s a cottage industry growing around that uncertainty surrounding gift cards. Specifically, should you keep them or sell them for about .75 cents on the dollar?

Web sites like SwapaGift.com and GiftcardRescue.com will give you cash for your cards – with payouts of between 65%-and-90% from GiftCardRescue.com, and about 75% at SwapaGift.com. Card sellers can be paid via PayPal or by check, and at SwapaGift, can redeem their cards at 700 agent locations across the U.S. and get cash on the spot.

SwapaGift.com’s web site states that the market for unused gift cards is a $10 billion industry, and given the rough-and-tumble economy – that market should expand significantly.

“We have seen an increase in gift card redemptions over the past 18 months due to the weak economy,” explains Jason Wolfe, CEO of Swapagift.com. “More people are redeeming gift cards and using the cash for their everyday needs,” stated Wolfe.  He adds that holiday gift card redemptions “will surpass last year’s numbers.”

There’s no rule that says you have to keep that Chuck E Cheese® gift card  – especially if your kids are already in college. Instead, sell it, and use the cash the way you want.

Fortunately, that process is easier than ever.

Image by Surat Lozowick, via Flickr

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