Photo by ClintJCL
In past years, a slew of websites have popped up offering plastic seekers and sellers alike a new way to exchange gift cards. These online marketplaces provide a convenient and secure way to buy the discount gift cards you want, ditch the ones you don't, and come out with something extra in your pocketbook.
Why this huge spike in the gift card trade? Grocery, apparel and gas gift cards have steadily gained in popularity as a gift for all occasions. Look no further for proof than the hottest shopping season of all: Last December consumers bought $40 billion worth of gift cards, often spending more than $50 per card. Nearly 40 percent were purchased on Christmas Eve alone.
Yet plastic, just like any gift, is not perfect for everyone. Say you get a Macy's gift card for Christmas. Problem is, you don't shop at Macy's. Soon enough, a thoughtful gift is reduced to no more than a snow scraper. (Read more quirky alternatives for rejected gift cards in our post "16 Creative Uses for Gift Cards.")
But if cash is what you need, a gift card exchange is one of the most hassle-free ways to profit from unused plastic. These websites deal in a huge variety of cards, making it easy for someone who frequently shops at Macy's to pick up your unused card in a gift card swap. From there, you can either trade gift cards for cash or opt to be paid in plastic.
Now that you're up on the game, here are five of the most reliable players in the gift card exchange market. Remember, always compare prices with Gift Card Granny to guarantee the best deal on your inaugural gift card trade.
1. Card Pool
Cardpool is a relative newcomer in the gift card exchange world, founded in 2009 with "the belief that no gift card should ever go unused." Since then, the site has been featured by CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and more. Card Pool is a clean and functional site with plenty of tips on how to become a deal-savvy gift card trader, buyer or seller. What's more, every order comes with free shipping and a 100-day guarantee.
2. Plastic Jungle
As one of the largest gift card exchange websites, Plastic Jungle is a prime source for cards of all kinds, including electronics. Best Buy, Home Depot and Kohl's gift cards are some of the heavy-hitters available on a regular basis, but you'll find everything from iTunes to restaurant gift cards. Plastic Jungle only buys cards with a minimum of $25, but will pay up to 92 percent of the card's value. To sweeten the deal, free shipping and a money-back guarantee are included with every purchase.
3. Gift Card Rescue
In the ever-expanding gift card swap world, the 3-year-old outfit Gift Card Rescue is doing things a bit differently to separate itself from the pack. With the same buy/sell services as many other sites, plus a repertoire of over 250 popular merchants and 90-percent cash back, it more than keep up with the big dogs. Where Gift Card Rescue really shines is in the customer service department. The business offers both phone and e-mail assistance throughout the whole process, as well as a generous guarantee and free shipping.
4. ABC Gift Cards
As proclaimed on their deceptively simple website, the 2006 start-up ABC Gift Cards is the largest online dealer of discounted gift cards. The business offers up to 35-percent off on gift card purchases, 82-percent back on sales, and a reasonable 3-percent service charge for a direct gift card swap. The business holds a prestigious A rating from the Better Business Bureau and is well-known for multiple secure payment options, including PayPal and Google Checkout. Sales over $50 qualify for free shipping.
5. Gift Card Castle
After being in the product trading business for over 10 years, Gift Card Castle is the veritable don of the gift card exchange family. The company has changed names several times, but the current iteration of Gift Card Castle uses the same core system as before, with up to 30-percent off buys and 92-percent cash back for sales. If you frequent the site, you can choose to be paid in store credit, which is easy to combine with cash for future gift card purchases. Gift Card Castle boasts an A+ rating from the BBB and free shipping on every order.