How to sell your unwanted gift cards

What do you do when you get a gift card for a place you aren't too happy about? Why, you sell it, of course!

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
4 min read

Did you know you can sell or trade your unwanted gift cards?

Most people don't even know such an option is possible, when in fact it is, and can come in really handy around the holiday season when almost everyone gets at least one gift card.

Below you will find a rundown of a few Web sites that facilitate the buying and selling of unwanted gift cards as well as an ingenious way of dealing with those Visa/Amex gift cards.


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Cardpool allows you to buy, sell or trade gift cards with fellow Cardpool members. You're able to sell a gift card for a little less than the overall value of the card. If you opt to send the cards' info in electronically, you are going to get a little bit less for the card than if you choose to physically send the card in.

The actual percentage Cardpool takes per card varies based on the demand for the gift card, and not a flat fee across the board. You're given the option to get an Amazon gift card instead of a check for the value of the card(s) for payment methods.

If you're looking to buy a card, you will be able to buy cards at a lesser amount than the card is worth, allowing you to save some money. (Which is also a great way to buy the gift cards you plan to give.)


Raise iPhone App Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Raise allows you to buy and sell gift cards directly from your iPhone using its free iOS app. While that may not seem like a big deal at first, think of the savings you can take advantage of by buying a gift card at a discounted price for the store you're currently shopping in. See something you want in Home Depot that's listed at $50? Launch Raise, search for Home Depot and buy a $50 card for $42.

Alternatively, you can keep tabs on the cards you have listed for sale on Raise directly from the app. Alerts are sent when a card is sold, letting you know you have funds available to deposit into your bank account or claim via check. You set the price for the gift card, deciding how much of a discount you're willing to give for someone to take it off your hands. For its part, Raise lays claim to 15 percent of the sales price.


Coinstar Exchange Kiosk Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Look for a Coinstar kiosk. I know what you're thinking: "Isn't that the company where you can dump years' worth of coins into one of its machines and get money back?" Yes, yes it is. Little did I realize it also has machines that offer cash in exchange for a gift card. You can locate a Coinstar Exchange kiosk here. Once you find a kiosk, you'll need to have a gift card with a minimum balance of $20 on it. Scan the card, verify your identity and wait for the machine to spit out cold, hard cash. Actually, it prints out a voucher for you to redeem inside whatever store the kiosk is located in. But it's all the same.

Gift Card Granny

Gift Card Granny's listing of gift card-selling sites. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Who doesn't love a Grandma that's always looking out for you? Gift Card Granny is a service that searches some of the leading gift card exchange sites and provides you with the current rates you'd receive when selling your card. Services covered include Raise and Cardpool (mentioned above), GiftCards.com, Giftcard Zen, ABC Gift Cards and MonsterGiftCard.com. The services use different fees and payment methods, so it's a wise idea to shop around and double-check that you're receiving the most money you can for your unwanted plastic.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET


This next piece of advice comes from Twitter user @garz76, via @nanpalmero; when you receive a Visa or Amex gift card, instead of trying to manage the balance at retail outlets, simply transact a payment to yourself using a Square card reader.

Granted, you are going to be charged the 2.75 percent fee for the transaction, but you will have the remaining value of the card deposited into your bank account within a couple days. Now, instead of having to fumble through keeping track of the balance or worry about what places will accept the card, you have cash in your bank account, to be used however you choose.

It only takes a few minutes to request a free Square reader (or you can purchase them at most big-box retailers now) and set up an account via the Web site in just a few minutes more.

If none of the above solutions sounds like a winner to you, there is always eBay, which allows the selling of gift cards. Of course, eBay has its own set of fees along with PayPal that can end up costing you more in the end. Weigh your options and choose whichever one works best for you.

The bottom line: there is no reason for you to be stuck with a gift card to a place you don't like. Sell it or trade it and get exactly what you want.