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How to sell or swap gift cards

Turn your unwanted gift cards into cash (or better gift cards).

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It's hard to mess up a generic gift like a gift card, but it's definitely possible. If you're the proud owner of some gift cards that you'renever going to use, this is the article for you. Instead of dumping those unwanted gift cards in your junk drawer for future re-gifting, why not try your hand at selling or swapping them online?

Where to buy, sell or swap

Gift cards are just one step away from cash. For that reason, I don't recommend swapping them via eBay (or Craigslist). Because a gift card's balance can be used up in seconds -- even without the physical card in hand -- eBay can be a dangerous venue for both selling and buying gift cards. Sellers risk scammy buyers purchasing cards, using up the balance and then claiming that the item was "not as described" (eBay is notorious for siding with buyers in purchase disputes). Buyers, on the other hand, can get scammed in many ways -- one not-uncommon scam is a seller who uses up the gift card's balance after it's been sold and delivered to the buyer.

Instead of selling your card through eBay, you should take a look at one of the (many) gift card marketplaces dedicated to swapping cards. Unlike eBay, these exchanges offer a balance guarantee on any card purchased through them -- so scammers can't use the card's balance after it's been sold. Many of these exchanges also act as the middleman between sellers and buyers, so you only have to deal with the company (not fickle gift card junkies).


Here are three of my favorite gift card markets:

Cardpool

Cardpool is an online gift card marketplace where you can sell or purchase gift cards. Cardpool buys gift cards directly from sellers and then sells them directly to buyers, so there is no user-to-user interaction. For sellers, Cardpool offers up to 92 percent of your card's value; for buyers, Cardpool offers discounts of up to 35 percent.

Buyers: Cardpool sells both physical and electronic gift cards. You can search for cards via category and refine your search by type, value and percent off. Cardpool offers a 180-day balance guarantee from the date of purchase, which means that you will be able to use the full value of any gift card you buy within 180 days (for example, it won't expire).

Sellers: Cardpool buys both physical and electronic gift cards. Cardpool will pay for you to ship your cards to them. The company pays out via mailed check or Amazon gift card -- if you choose the Amazon gift card, you'll get a slightly better rate.

CardCash

CardCash is an online gift card marketplace where you can buy, sell or swap gift cards. CardCash buys gift cards directly from sellers and sells them directly to buyers; sellers can also choose to trade their cards (at a slightly better rate) instead of taking cash. For sellers, CardCash offers up to 92 percent of your card's value; for buyers, CardCash offers discounts of up to 35 percent.

Buyers: CardCash sells both physical and electronic gift cards. You can browse cards by type (physical or electronic) or by category. CardCash offers a 45-day balance guarantee from the date of purchase -- this means you'll be able to use the full value of the card you purchase within 45 days.

Sellers: CardCash buys both physical and electronic gift cards, and also allows sellers to trade cards for other gift cards instead of accepting cash. CardCash will pay for you to ship your physical cards to them. The company pays out via PayPal, ACH deposit or mailed check. If you want to trade your card for a different card, you will need to mail it in (for example, there are no electronic cards).

Raise

Unlike Cardpool and CardCash, Raise is a user-driven gift card marketplace -- sort of like eBay, but with less risk. On Raise, sellers list gift cards at the price of their choosing and buyers purchase cards directly from the sellers. Raise doesn't take possession of any of the cards that are sold on its site, but sellers are required to "verify" their cards with the company (by entering in serial numbers and PINs and checking the card's balance) before they can be listed.

Buyers: Because Raise is user-driven, you may find better -- or worse -- deals than you'd find on Cardpool or CardCash. Raise does offer a 100-day money-back guarantee on all cards sold through its platform -- the guarantee covers inactive cards, cards with an inaccurate balance and cards not received within 30 days of purchase.

Sellers: You can list your gift card for any price on Raise, so you may be able to sell it for more than the "up to 92 percent of the card's value" that other sites offer. Raise does take a 15 percent cut of any cards sold, though, so you'll need to factor that into your selling price. Once your card sells, you are responsible for shipping it to the buyer within three days.

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