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How to sell gift cards

Key takeaways

  • Nearly half of Americans have an unused gift card with an average value of almost $200.
  • You can sell or exchange unwanted gift cards at third-party marketplaces and gift card resale platforms, usually for less than face value.
  • Take precautions to avoid fraud if you trade or sell gift cards online.

Where to sell gift cards

You’ve got a lot of options. There are many websites specifically devoted to selling gift cards. You can also try more general online marketplaces, as well as marketplaces and local groups on social media platforms that allow you to sell gift cards (among other items). Even some brick-and-mortar stores will buy your gift cards and then resell them. So how do you decide where to do business?

Check if the gift card selling platform is legit

You could check whether the place you’re thinking of using to sell your gift card has a profile and rating from the Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit that rates businesses, from A+ to F, based on how well they resolve customer complaints, among other factors. Whatever site you use, make sure it has protections, like money-back guarantees or credit card info requirements. That way, if, for example, a buyer uses the gift card code before their payment to you clears, the site can charge their credit card—and you still get your money.

See how much work is required to make a sale

Some marketplaces put the onus on you to find someone to purchase your gift card, meaning you’re responsible for writing a post and responding to messages from potential buyers. Other sites buy a card instantly from you, then resell the gift card on their own.

Consider how much cash you’ll get to keep from the gift card sale

On an auction site, for instance, you might have to pay a double-digit percentage of the card’s value as a commission fee to the site once (or if) it sells. On a site that sells gift cards at a discount, you’d have to part with your card for a fraction of its value to attract a buyer.

Look into gift card deal aggregators

Using one could potentially take away some of the guesswork. These sites allow you to enter the retailer that issued your gift card and its value and then compare offers from various resellers and exchanges.

Find out how a platform pays

It’s important to know upfront how a platform pays out too—check, direct deposit, payment apps, digital wallet, or another retailer gift card—in case you have a preference for how to get paid.

Know platforms’ restrictions on what they’ll sell

Not every site will take any gift card. Check out specific rules to find out whether they:

  • only sell certain merchants’ gift cards
  • have minimum and/or maximum values
  • have expiration date limits
  • sell physical gift cards (in which case, you might be required to swipe yours with a USB reader) and/or digital gift cards
  • have customer service contact numbers if a problem should arise
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What to know before you sell gift cards

Just as with other kinds of online transactions, you’ll want to watch out for scams. If you want to sell your gift card on an online marketplace, don’t give out your personal information, like your phone number. A scammer might use it to open up lines of credit in your name. You usually can communicate with potential buyers via the gift-card selling site or app to avoid giving out other details.

And don’t give out gift card PINs, codes, or a photo of the back of the card before you receive payment. A scammer might ask for these to “confirm the gift card’s validity” only to then fully redeem the gift card before you see a dime. Gift cards don’t have the same protections that credit or debit cards do, so if you fall for a scam, you’re likely out of luck unless the selling platform will help. Still, if you get fooled, it’s worth reporting the scam to the gift card issuer and the Federal Trade Commission.

If the gift card you’re trying to sell isn’t worth what you think it should be, or it expired sooner than you thought, get to know the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (Credit CARD) Act. It says a gift card can’t expire for at least 5 years from when it was activated. The law also limits inactivity fees that could diminish the gift card’s value, though if it’s been more than a year since you’ve used it, deducting a fee might be legal. Check your state’s laws for any recourse you might have if you lose money on gift cards for these reasons—or to find out whether retailers must pay you for unused balances.

Other gift card options

What can you do with an unused gift card if you don’t feel like selling? Consider these moves.

Regift it. Just make sure you haven’t left some odd $3.87 balance on it—that’d make it obvious you partially used it.

Use it to do good. Buy items that could benefit worthy causes. Examples include buying groceries to donate to a hunger charity or food bank, using a restaurant gift card to treat first responders or teachers, or using a general retailer gift card to buy school supplies for a classroom in need or personal hygiene products for a homeless shelter. Check with a tax pro to see if you could take a tax write-off for any of these generous deeds.

Donate the gift card outright. Some sites will take gift cards from certain merchants and give the cash to charities. Or you could check with the charity of your choice to see if they accept gift cards with balances directly from donors. Again, it’s worth consulting a tax pro to see if these count as tax-deductible donations.

Exchange it for cash. One online payment system can help you turn your gift card into cash, either by allowing you to add it to your digital wallet or your wallet on the payment system itself.

Trade it for a gift card you actually want. A large social media forum hosts a gift card exchange group with moderators, more than 100,000 members, and disciplinary action for rulebreakers and scammers.

Turn your gift card into cash in your brokerage account. The Fidelity Youth™ app is a free financial app for teens that allows them to save, spend, or invest. One feature: a gift card exchange that turns unused balances into a cash deposit into their Fidelity Youth™ Account less any commission fee.

Help your teen learn about money

The Fidelity Youth® Account gives teens the power to save, spend, and invest their money.

More to explore

The Fidelity Youth(TM) app is free to download. Fees associated with your account positions or transacting in your account apply.

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