NEW YORK (CBS 2) — This holiday season, some people are finding they still have an unwanted gift card tucked away from last Christmas that’s about to expire.
Now there’s a way you can swap it for a card to a store you really love, or even turn it in for cash.
It’s the gift card exchange.
It happens all the time. You’re given a gift card to a store you don’t really like.
“Worst gift card I ever got was to a kids store … and I don’t have kids,” one person told CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson.
“I got one for a pet store once. Yeah, and I don’t like animals,” another person said.
Receiving a card to a store you have no interest in is actually the number one complaint about gift cards — according to consumer experts.
“Another problem I’ve encountered with people is they’ll say I got a gift card for a store that’s very expensive and I can’t find anything in the store that’s $25,” said Kelli Grant of Smart Money Magazine.
As many as 10 percent of gift cards go unredeemed each year. They often sit unused in a wallet — or worse – could be regifted.
But now, there are a number of websites that let you swap a card, sell it or even turn it in for cash.
Mary Jane Kelly is the founder of one of them, called swapagift.com. On the site she explains why she started the business.
“My husband and I started the website in 2003 simply because we had so many gift cards and we knew that we would never use them and we knew that if we had that problem other consumers probably did as well,” Kelly said.
While you won’t get 100 percent of the card’s value, depending on the retailer that issued the card, you will receive between 50 and 90 percent of the balance.
“Or you can trade it in for a Visa card or you can pay bills with your unwanted gift cards,” Kelly said.
Other sites like monstergiftcard.com post hundreds of cards for sale from every major retailer, in all denominations. Cardpool can connect you with millions of other gift card holders, so you can buy, sell, or trade around the world. And at plasticjungle.com you can even donate the balance of your unused gift card to charity.
“Some of the sites will offer options where you can get either points or a credit for whatever value they would have given you in cash to be able to use towards buying another one of the gift cards,” Grant said.
And that’s not all, if you’re looking to buy a gift card for the holidays, experts say you can land a great deal on these sites. Johnson found a $100 Best Buy gift card for $95, and several $100 Home Depot cards for $93.
“If you want something that’s really fast and hassle free these sites that buy the gift cards or swap them out right are a pretty good option,” Grant said.
To ensure you’re buying or selling a legitimate card, each site verifies the card’s balance and its expiration date with the store.