Unwanted Gift Cards: How to Get What You Really Want

Each year, the holiday season is full of well-intentioned people who give gift cards that are not likely to ever be used. Though this can seem like a holiday bummer for the recipient, an unwanted gift card is simply an opportunity waiting to happen. Here are several ways to get something better out of your gift card to make your holidays more merry than you have ever imagined.

Option 1: Ask the Store. In some cases, you may be able to trade your gift card in for cash. In others, there may be a loophole where you can buy merchandise with a gift card and then return it for cash. This doesn’t work everywhere, and your best bet is to go straight to customer service and ask if there are any return policies that allow this to happen.

Option 2: Sell your Card. If you have a friend who is an avid shopper at Sparkles-R-Us or whatever other store your card comes from, the best bet is to sell it to them, or swap them for a more usable card. If not, find a buyer online. There are lots of places to sell your stuff online these days. Ebay and Craigslist top the list, but there are many other online marketplaces where you can do this. You will likely have to sell it at a discount if you want a trade. Few people will take time out of their day to pay $50 for a $50 gift card, since they could just use that money at the store already. But $45 for the card will get a bargain hunter excited. Expect them to try and haggle you down a bit more, however. It’s in their nature.

Option 3: Make the Best of It. One thing to keep in mind with all of these is that this is a gift. Just because it comes from a store you never shopped in, such as a sporting goods store when you’re a couch potato, doesn’t mean that there is nothing here for you. It just means that you need to come down and discover for yourself. Best case scenario is that you find something that you love. Medium case is that you find something to give to the person who got you the card in the first place on the next holiday, and worst case is that you find nothing, but now you know. If you find nothing of value to you, all is not lost. Proceed to option 4.

Option 4: Buy Something to Resell. If you really want to get into advanced opportunity making, then use the card to buy something that is discounted, or the very last of an item that is going out of stock. Both of these become money making opportunities if you turn around and sell them online to someone who didn’t quite make it to the store before they ran out of them. This can often result in a pretty good payout, and in some cases can double or triple your investment. Considering the money was funded by a free gift card, then it’s an even bigger win for you.

Option 5: Give it to Charity. If you really can’t stand anything at the store, then see if you can give the card to charity, or purchase an item to donate. At least then, the value of the donation can be used against your taxes, and you get to make someone in need smile at their brand new nose hair trimmer or salad spinner. Not only does this make you a nice person, but you get the tax break to prove it.

So there it is– five ways to make the best of a bad gift card. No matter how you deal with it, it’s important to note that this was given out of love and kindness, and every gift, even the gift certificate to Garlic World, deserves a heartfelt thank you. How you return the favor to your gift-challenged friend is up to you.

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