Here’s what to do on those occasions when a gift card isn’t the perfect gift.
Who doesn’t love a gift card? Well, maybe the vegan who gets a card for a steakhouse, or the person who receives a clothing store gift card and thinks the fashions there are hideous. (No wonder that chain is in trouble.)
If you unwrap a gift card you can’t ever see yourself using, just try your best to smile and act thrilled — and know that there are plenty of good ways of getting unwanted gift cards off your hands.
FcaHere are eight of them.
1. Sell them for cash
Rest assured, you’re not the only person who has ever gotten a gift card from your least favorite store or a restaurant that just isn’t your thing.
Or, list your card on eBay. The bigger the discount you’re willing to give, the faster it’s likely to sell.
2. Trade them in
The sites that help you sell gift cards often will offer you an even better deal if you’re willing to do a straight-up swap for a different card in their system.
Another option is to take your cast-off cards to Target. No matter how picky you are, you can probably find something you like at Tar-zhay, right?
Participating Target stores have kiosks where gift cards from dozens of other chains can be traded for a Target card.
3. Donate your gift cards
Charities often accept donated gift cards, even if part of the balance has been used. And, you might even get a tax deduction.
You also might consider CardFunder, where you can start a group collection drive so your unloved gift cards can be combined with others to make a major donation for a needy cause.
4. Use them to buy items to donate
Instead of giving a card directly to a charity, use it to buy gifts that a group can put to good use. This way, you can enjoy the fun of going shopping and feel the satisfaction of helping others.
Let’s say you’ve received a gift card to a sporting goods store but haven’t put on a pair of gym shorts since high school phys ed.
Find charities for kids in your area that would be thrilled to get a few new baseball bats or basketballs. Then, use the gift card to buy the items, and drop them off. Maybe you’ll see a few young smiles when you do.
5. Regift them
When a gift makes the rounds on Seinfeld, Elaine points a finger at Tim Whatley (played by Bryan Cranston) and shouts “You’re a regifter!” as if he had just committed a major crime.
But seriously, regifting isn’t so bad — in fact, it’s practical and efficient. A gift card that doesn’t float your boat may be perfect for someone you know.
Just make certain you’ve found the right recipient. Otherwise, you could very well wind up with the card again through a neverending circle of regifting.
6. Use them to buy presents
If regifting the card seems too impersonal, then take it to the store and use it to buy something a giftee on your list is sure to like.
But don’t leave the register without a gift receipt. If your family member or friend feels about the gift the way you do about the gift card, you’ll want to make it easy for the recipient to exchange the present.
7. Get cash back
Gift cards that aren’t for a specific business but instead are issued by one of the major credit card brands might be turned into cash right at your favorite store — but be warned that a few steps are required.
First, you need to assign the card a PIN number. Next you use the card to make a debit purchase. Then, you return the item, and ask for cash.
In a few states, you can request cash in exchange for a small balance left on a card. California requires merchants to return amounts under $10, if you ask. Other states allow you to receive $5 or less.
8. Give them to a charity auction
Does your kid’s school ever ask parents to help gather donations for a fundraising auction?
Next time it happens, you’ll be armed and ready to participate. Just donate the card for people to bid on — and hope that the auction attendees are more excited about the card than you were.
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