Where To Buy & Sell Gift Cards

Whether you have a stack of unused gift cards lying in a drawer somewhere or you’re looking to save some money on upcoming purchases, a gift card exchange could be the answer. Giving sellers a way to get cash for unwanted plastic and offering buyers discounted gift cards from top retailers, the right exchange can take pressure off your budget in more ways than one, while helping you gift better gifts for any occasion. We clearly have a big need for such services, considering that more than $21 billion in gift cards has gone unused since 2008, according to CEB, despite gift cards remaining the country’s most popular type of present, according to the National Retail Federation.

But how does one choose a gift card exchange? That’s an important question given the dollars and cents at stake, so we did the homework for you. WalletHub’s editors compared the most popular choices across five major categories to identify the best gift card exchanges for buyers and the best gift card exchanges for sellers, respectively. Before we get to the nitty gritty, here’s a quick overview of our picks:

Best For… Gift Card Exchange
Buyers Gift Card Granny
Sellers CardCash.com
In Person Coinstar

Below, you can learn more about all of the exchanges we considered as well as the methodology used in the selection process. Enjoy the savings!

2016’s Best Gift Card Exchange For Buyers

Gift Card Exchange WalletHub Score (100 Max) Average Discount Shipping Fee Payment Options Type of Exchange User Rating
Gift Card Granny

Gift Card Granny

85 6.42% $0 Credit Card Aggregates Other Exchanges 2.75
Raise

Raise

84 5.14% $0 Credit Card

PayPal

Cards From Verified Sellers 3.65
Gift Card Bin

GiftCardBin

83 5.88% $0 Credit Card

PayPal

Buy Directly From Site 3.05
Giftcard Zen

Giftcard Zen

78 4.89% $0 Credit Card

PayPal

Buy Directly From Site 3.55
Card Cash

CardCash.com

71 3.27% $0 Credit Card

Bitcoin

PayPal

Buy Directly From Site 4.10
Cardpool

Cardpool

71 4.63% $0 Credit Card Buy Directly From Site 2.80
Giftcards.com

GiftCards.com

66 4.50% $0 Credit Card Buy Directly From Site 2.30

2016’s Best Gift Card Exchange For Sellers

Gift Card Exchange WalletHub Score Speed of Sale Average Resale Value ($100 Gift Card) Payout Options User Rating
Card Cash

CardCash.com

80 Immediately

(Sell to Site)

$76.50 Direct Deposit

Check

PayPal

4.10
Raise

Raise

70 Varies

(List on Site)

$81.66 Direct Deposit

Check

PayPal

3.65
Giftcard Zen

Giftcard Zen

65 Immediately

(Sell to Site)

$78.97 Check 3.55
Gift Card Bin

GiftCardBin

65 Immediately

(Sell to Site)

$72.13 Check

PayPal

3.05
Gift Card Granny

Gift Card Granny

65 Varies

(Sell to Site or List for Sale)

N/A Depends on Offer 2.75
Cardpool

Cardpool

50 Varies

(List on Site)

$76.97 Check 2.80

Gift Card Exchange FAQs

Gift card exchanges are fairly unfamiliar to most consumers. So while they’re generally pretty easy to use, questions still arise. Here’s what you need to know about the issues you’re probably wondering about.

  1. Are Gift Card Exchanges Safe? For the most part, yes, as long as you stick with the largest, most reputable options. A given exchange’s WalletHub Score is one indicator of trustworthiness, as are reviews written by consumers who have tried that exchange. What’s more, it’s usually a lot safer to sell your gift card directly to an exchange, rather than using the site to find an interested buyer in your area. For that reason, we recommend that you do not buy gift cards sold on sites such as eBay and Craigslist, which necessitate trusting an unverified individual. 
  1. Are There Any Alternatives To Using A Gift Card Exchange? There are a few, but each has its own flaws. For starters, if you’re buying a present and aren’t sure what the intended recipient’s favorite stores are, you can simply give cash. This might not seem as special, and you obviously won’t get a discount, but it will make things easier on everyone involved. Alternatively, you could simply wait for a sale at a favorite store and buy actual merchandise when it’s on sale.

    On the other hand, if you have an unwanted gift card that you’d like to unload, you could just re-gift it. Most stores will allow you to swap one of their older gift card designs for the current one, so the recipient won’t know what you’re up to. You could also simply swap gift cards with a friend or family member, assuming each of you has a card that the other person wants. 

  1. Tips For A Successful Gift Card Exchange: In addition to carefully choosing which gift card exchange you want to work with, there are a few basics steps that you can take to ensure the best possible experience:
     

    • Pay With A Credit Card: Credit cards are the safest way to make purchases because they’re all backed with a $0 liability guarantee for unauthorized transactions. This should make you more comfortable giving payment information to a business you’ve never patroned before. 
    • Verify Card Balances When Possible: You can check a gift card’s remaining balance by calling the “1-800” number listed on the back of the card or inputting the card’s identification code into a tool on the respective retailer’s website. Doing so prior to paying should be a must when buying a gift card from an individual. And you should at least check the balance before making any purchases with the gift card when buying from a company. 
    • Buy Opportunistically: Instead of purchasing a gift card immediately before you need it, keep an eye on the offers from your favorite stores and pounce when great discounts become available. This will help you save money in the long run, assuming you do go overboard and buy a bunch of gift cards you’ll never really need. 

Methodology

To identify the best gift card exchanges, WalletHub compared each of the most popular options based on the factors that figure to be most important to buyers and sellers, respectively. Below, you will find the grading rubric we used to evaluate the top options for sellers. And you can find our fully methodology for evaluating the best options for sellers in our in-depth look at the best places to sell gift cards.

Average Discount (50 points max): We determined what discounts buyers can obtain for 10 of the year’s best gift cards from each exchange and averaged the results. 

  • 50 points: 5.00%+
  • 40 points: 4.00% to 4.99%
  • 25 points: 3.00% to 3.99%
  • 10 points: 1.50% to 2.99%
  • 0 points: < 1.50% 

We did not consider deals where an unusually high percentage discount was available for a single gift card from a particular retailer. Such outliers would not be representative of the exchange’s normal inventory, as that unique offer could be bought at any time. 

Popularity (20 points max): A well-liked, highly reviewed exchange figures to have an active community of buyers and sellers, a large selection of gift cards to choose from and a pleasant user experience. To approximate the relative popularity of the top exchanges, we obtained their ratings from a range of major review sites (including the Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot and Reseller Ratings) as well as their Facebook likes. We then averaged these results to create an overall popularity rating.

  • 20 points: 4.0 to 5.0
  • 15 points: 3.5 to 3.9
  • 10 points: 2.5 to 3.4
  • 5 points: 1.5 to 2.4
  • 0 points: < 1.5

Fees (12 points max): Shipping fees and site commissions would obviously diminish the savings that users of an exchange can expect. So we determined if and when such charges enter the equation and ranked the exchanges accordingly. 

  • 12 points: No fees for buyers
  • 0 points: Any buyer fees 

Type Of Exchange (12 points max): Some exchanges buy gift cards directly from individuals and other companies and then sell them directly to consumers. Other exchanges also enable consumer-to-consumer transactions or aggregate offers from multiple sites. 

  • 12 points: Aggregator
  • 8 points: Sell to site
  • 4 points: List for sale
  • 0 points: No gift cards available 

Payment Options (6 points max): What payment methods can buyers use when purchasing a discounted gift card? The more options, the better. 

  • 6 points: 3+ payment options
  • 3 points: 2 payment options
  • 1 point: 1 payment option

After obtaining the necessary data from the websites of each exchange as well as related resources that that speak to their popularity, we ranked the exchanges from best to worst in each category. We then used the weighted average of these rankings to calculate an overall WalletHub Score for each exchange, on which we based our final rankings.

 

 

Image: solar22 / iStock.

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