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Buying and Selling Gift Cards

Written by Nickel - 9 Comments

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Buying and Selling Gift Cards

Have you ever bought or sold store gift cards through an online gift card exchange? I’ve never done this myself, but a reader named Chris recently wrote in to share his experiences, and it sounds like a great option if you’ve received a card that you don’t want, or if you’re looking to score a discount on an upcoming purchase.

According to Chris:

My wife, who is an avid Kohl’s shopper, found that you can pay your Kohl’s bill with Kohl’s gift cards. We then found that Gift Card Rescue regularly sells Kohl’s gift cards at a 15% discount. So, you can make your Kohl’s purchase (using your Kohl’s card for additional discounts; my wife often gets things at 75-85% off the regular price). Then, once you get your bill, you can buy the gift card(s) you need to pay the bill at an additional 15% discount. As long as it’s convenient for you to go to Kohl’s to pay your bill in person, this is a win-win.

Obviously, you don’t have to jump through the “pay your credit card with a gift card” hoop to get a good deal, but Chris is right – you can often score additional discounts at Kohl’s by using your store credit card.

After poking around a bit on both Gift Card Rescue and Plastic Jungle, I was impressed by the number of stores for which cards are available. The discounts vary, but you can save a decent amount – e.g., 7% for both Lowes and Home Depot, 10% for Auto Zone, 11% for Fandango, 13-15% for Barnes & Noble, 14% for JC Penney, 16% for Kohl’s, and so on.

In a followup message, Chris also pointed out the utility of these sites when it comes to unloading unwanted gift cards.

I also sold a $50 Bass Pro gift card that I won from a local radio station. While I could have found something to buy at Bass Pro, I really would have been spending it just to spend it. When I found that Plastic Jungle would give me $40 in cash or a $42.50 Amazon electronic gift card, I thought that was a better option. Because I was planning on buying something at Amazon, I went with the Amazon gift card and the transaction went very smoothly.

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve definitely received gift cards that I didn’t really want or need. While re-gifting these cards is one possible solution, re-selling them is another good option.

In general terms, gift card exchanges pay up to ~90% of the face value of your gift card, with the final amount depending on how much they can re-sell it for. Unlike buying or selling on eBay or Craigslist, your transactions are also guaranteed, and shipping (at least when buying) is typically free. It’s also worth noting that you can sell partially used gift cards in odd amounts.

If you’ve ever bought or sold gift cards using one of these services, I’d love to hear how it went. How much (percentage-wise) did you get when you sold? How much big of a discount did you get when you bought? Did you have any problems? Any tips to share? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Published on August 5th, 2011 - 9 Comments
Filed under: Consumer,Frugality

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. Sounds like a win-win. Awesome. Thanks for alerting me to these websites.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 5th 2011 @ 9:35 am
  2. This is great! On Monday I’m actually posting a blog on giftcards as well and how I get them for free from surveys. We must be on the same vib nickle. 😀

    I’ve looked into buying them to save some money on purchasing things I already wanted to purchase, but I hadn’t thought about trading them in for other giftcards that I could use. Currently I’ve got about $100 from Express. Maybe I should put a deadline on using them or trade them in to speed up my kindle purchase :-). I should really start using this process to save more money from amazon and other places that I regularly shop at. Thanks for putting the seed in my brain!

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 5th 2011 @ 11:41 am
  3. We buy gift cards a lot. I’ve bought gift cards for target for household expenses, petsmart for our cat’s food and home depot for repairs around the house. Target is the least discounted but overall we are saving about 7%, some time more. This has made a big improvement in our budget.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 5th 2011 @ 2:07 pm
  4. Great timing, as I explored this option just yesterday. I had two $40 Macy’s gift cards that I haven’t been motivated to use. I shop at Amazon all the time (saving on that sales tax!) so I checked out a site called Cardpool.

    I easily turned my $80 from Macy’s into $63.84 at Amazon. I could have gotten $68.04 if I’d wanted to mail the cards in and wait an extra 3-4 days, but I just went ahead and entered the codes online this time to see how it works.

    I immediately received email notification that my transaction was in progress. About ten hours later I received email with my Amazon gift card number, which I used this morning.

    This is a great service, as those cards have been sitting here for a year. The only downside I could find is that they only buy gift cards with a balance of $25 or more.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 5th 2011 @ 4:10 pm
  5. I’ve used Plastic Jungle as well… twice. I found the service very good and prompt. Much much easier than eBay.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 5th 2011 @ 4:29 pm
  6. With some of those sites, you can also trade gift cards straight-up for ones you will use. It makes it a little easier sometimes to know that you are getting the full value in exchange rather than losing some value in order to get cash.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 5th 2011 @ 7:06 pm
  7. I have purchased discounted gift cards several times, from cardpool, plastic jungle,ebay, and even a special promotion at Safeway. I like to purchase gift cards, in advance of expected expenses (clothing, gifts,or planned major purchase) and combine them with sales and in-store promotions offering extra discounts.

    I have written several posts about using discounted gift cards, how to combine them with store discounts, and where to get the best discount for various retailers. My best deal was when I combined multiple discounts with a discounted gift card and saved a total of 76% off the retail price at Kohl’s.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 6th 2011 @ 12:52 am
  8. You’re right, Plastic Jungle is the greatest thing since sliced bread! I wanted to get new carpeting for my basement which ran about $2200 at Home Depot. So I bought about 20 gift cards in varying amounts (totalling 2220). When I paid for the carpeting I ended up saving 7%, or about $154….not bad!

    Since I end up at Home Depot every weekend, now I’ll usually buy at least one gift card a month (in advance) so that I’m always saving 7% on my purchases.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 8th 2011 @ 1:28 pm
  9. I’m Chris–the guy who passed this along to nickel originally. I’m writing with a caution on buying gift cards… We have since discovered that when you buy gift cards that you SOMETIMES don’t receive actual gift cards, you receive “merchandise credit” cards instead. For example, we had a Kohl’s bill to pay, so we bought a larger gift card through Gift Card Rescue (or so we thought we would get a gift card). What came in the mail was a merchandise credit which COULD NOT be used to pay the Kohl’s bill like a regular gift card could. It was valid, however, for merchandise in the store, which my wife will be using it for. We contacted Gift Card Rescue about this and they said that they sometimes DO send merchandise credit instead of gift cards. They said they would refund our money, but the process to do this was a bit awkward, so we just decided to keep it (we would have had to mail it back and they recommended getting a tracking number, which would have been more costly than regular mail, etc.)

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 8th 2011 @ 3:53 pm

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