It’s easy to put your unwanted gift cards to good use by selling for cash, swapping for alternative cards or donating remaining balances to a good cause. See how some of the most popular gift card exchange sites stack up.
Indeed, a recent survey from Bankrate found that U.S. adults have more than $20 billion in unused gift cards and store credits, with the average person holding onto around $167 in unredeemed funds.
The good news is that instead of letting your gift cards go to waste, you can trade them in for cash, exchange them for more useful cards or donate them to charity, usually in just a few clicks.
How to sell, exchange and donate gift cards
- How to sell gift cards for cash
- Selling gift cards through Cardpool
- Selling and exchanging gift cards through CardCash
- Selling gift cards through Raise
- Are Cardpool, CardCash and Raise legitimate sites?
- How to donate gift cards
How to sell gift cards for cash
If you’re looking to sell gift cards at a discounted price, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a buyer. According to the National Retail Federation, gift cards have been the most popular item on consumer wish lists for 13 straight years, with 59% of those surveyed requesting gift cards as holiday presents in 2019.
While selling won’t get you face value for your gift card, having this option could certainly come in handy if you’re short on cash or suspect the retailer that issued the card is headed for bankruptcy. After all, if a store shutters completely, your gift card could lose all its value.
Selling gift cards through Cardpool
One popular marketplace for selling gift cards is Cardpool.com, a gift card exchange site that lets you buy discounted gift cards and sell unwanted gift cards from dozens of major retailers, including department stores, electronics stores, restaurants and more.
Since Cardpool buys gift cards directly from consumers, you won’t have to worry about setting resale prices or dealing with buyers yourself as you would on a site like eBay or Craigslist, where you face a greater risk of gift card resale scams.
Cardpool says it buys physical and electronic gift cards for up to 92% of their value, depending on the card’s popularity. However, most of the brands we tried – including popular options like Target, Walmart and Best Buy – yielded an offer closer to 80% of their value.
You can sell your gift cards online at Cardpool.com or take them to a physical exchange location and, depending on the location, trade them for cash. Your gift card must have a minimum remaining balance of $25 if sold online, or $20 if sold at a physical location.
If you’re selling online, simply select the gift card you want to sell, enter the card balance and choose how you’d like to be paid. You can opt for an Amazon eGift card or have a paper check mailed to you.
Before you finalize your transaction, Cardpool requires you to add your contact and credit card information for identity verification purposes. The site promises you will not be charged unless your gift cards were obtained fraudulently, or you attempt to use the gift cards after completing the sale.
You can also find Cardpool kiosks and cashier-assisted locations at various check-cashing, grocery and department stores across the country. Unfortunately, some locations only offer their own store’s gift cards or a bank-issued gift card as payment – not cash.
Selling and exchanging gift cards through CardCash
Like Cardpool, CardCash.com buys gift cards directly from consumers, offering up to 92% cash back for your unwanted gift cards. But where Cardpool lets you choose between selling online and trading for cash at a physical exchange location, CardCash operates exclusively online.
While gift card prices fluctuate based on supply and demand, we found that many of the cards we tested fetched a bit more value at CardCash than Cardpool. Of course, your experience may vary.
For example, when we checked, a $100 Best Buy gift card was valued at $86 at CardCash, compared to $82.20 at Cardpool, and a $100 Walmart gift card was valued at $88 at CardCash, compared to $82 at Cardpool.
Additionally, CardCash features a noticeably more robust list of accepted gift cards: Along with popular options like Target and Walmart, you can sell gift cards from places like 7-Eleven, Costco, Starbucks and Uber Eats, none of which are currently an option with Cardpool.
Selling gift cards at CardCash is easy: Simply enter a merchant and card balance and you can see your offer instantly. You can also add multiple cards at once and see their total value. Only gift cards with a remaining balance of $10 or more are eligible.
Once you’ve selected your desired payment method – via check in the mail, ACH deposit or PayPal Express Checkout – enter your gift card number and PIN.
If you’d rather swap out your gift cards for others than sell them for cash, CardCash is one of your best bets. Indeed, the site offers up to 11% more value for your cards if you trade them instead of selling.
That said, the site’s selection of alternatives is limited. Currently, you can only choose to swap your gift card for a card at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, CVS Pharmacy, eBay, GameStop, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Overstock, Starbucks and Uber Eats.
Selling gift cards through Raise
Unlike Cardpool and CardCash, Raise.com does not buy gift cards directly from consumers. Instead, Raise hosts an online marketplace where you can list your gift cards for sale or buy from other independent sellers.
Raise does not charge an upfront fee for hosting your gift card listing. Instead, if your card sells, the site deducts a 15% fee from your final sale price and forwards you the rest. Raise also handles the actual transaction process, so you won’t need to deal directly with buyers. Simply list your cards and ship any physical cards once sold. You can receive payment via check in the mail, PayPal or ACH deposit.
Raise is also unique in letting you set your own price for your gift cards. In theory, this could allow you to squeeze a bit more value out of your cards – but there’s also no guarantee they will sell. Cardpool and CardCash, on the other hand, make you a guaranteed offer you can take or leave.
For reference, Raise includes a suggested selling price and the discount offered by current card listings when you upload your card for sale. You’ll also see how much you’ll earn with Raise’s 15% fee factored in.
For example, Raise suggested we list a $100 Walmart gift card for $99.13. With the 15% fee deducted, we stood to earn $84.26, compared to $82 at Cardpool and $88 at CardCash.
Are Cardpool, CardCash and Raise legitimate sites?
Yes, all three sites are legitimate businesses and should offer more security than you’ll find selling cards yourself on a site like eBay or Craigslist. That said, each has faced its share of customer complaints.
For example, Cardpool’s Better Business Bureau profile notes “a pattern of complaints,” concerning failure to issue payment in a timely manner and to respond to customer inquiries. Indeed, the site currently holds an F rating from the bureau.
Still, the bureau notes: “While the business has failed to resolve the overall pattern, BBB acknowledges that since September 2019, the business has made concerted efforts to answer and resolve individual consumer complaints filed through BBB.”
CardCash’s BBB profile also notes a number of complaints, mostly from customers who’d bought gift cards on the site and had their card balances disappear after the site’s 45-day guarantee expired. Overall, however, CardCash holds a B+ rating from the bureau.
Raise fares best of all, holding an A rating from the Better Business Bureau. That said, the site’s customer service rating averages around 2 stars on the Better Business Bureau site and at Trustpilot. Like CardCash, most of Raise’s complaints relate to issues with buying gift cards, with some customers alleging the site performed a hard pull on their credit report.
We’ve reached out to each of these companies for comment on their customer service reputation and are awaiting comment.
How to donate gift cards
Another great way to use your unwanted or low-balance gift cards is to donate them to charity, either directly or via a site like GiftCards4Change.
GiftCards4Change’s mission is to “collect, combine and liquidate gift cards through relationships with merchants, corporate sponsorship programs and third-party vendors to maximize the value of your remaining gift card balance.”
This means that even if you’ve used a portion of your gift card, you can donate what’s left to GiftCards4Change to make a difference in areas like poverty assistance, education advancement, human trafficking and homelessness. As the site notes, “In some cases we are able to double [or] triple the value of your donated card with donor match programs and local community initiatives.”
GiftCards4Change sells gift cards as well, with 100% of your purchase going directly to charity.
CardCash has also occasionally offered users the option of donating gift cards to charity instead of trading them for cash. The site partnered with Charity on Top for a donation program during Hurricane Harvey, and is currently working with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Unfortunately, donating via CardCash won’t yield the full value of your gift card – for example, a $100 Walmart gift card would get St. Jude’s $88 – so it may be worth contacting a local charity directly about donating unwanted cards instead.
Whichever route you take, be sure to get a receipt for the value of the card so that you can claim your donation as a tax deduction.
Whether you decide to sell them for cash, swap for an alternative, or pass on their remaining value to those in need, your old, unwanted or low-balance gift cards can be put to good use. You may only get back 70-80% of your card’s value, but that’s certainly better than letting them go to waste.