By Kelly Hodges
Everyone loves getting a gift card, right?  What’s not to love about free money to spend at your favorite store or restaurant?  I recently received a $50 gift card to Starbucks as a thank you from a friend- I couldn’t have been happier, guilt-free mochas for a month!  But what if you receive a gift card for a store or restaurant you don’t particularly like?  I personally hate seafood, so a Red Lobster gift card is not going to do me much good.

If you have a few unused gift cards lying around you’re not alone.  It is estimated that there are over 30 billion dollars in unused gift cards sitting in people’s drawers collecting dust!  Thankfully you don’t have to let that unused gift card money go to waste. Online gift card exchange websites are now making it easy to turn unwanted gift cards into something far more useful- CASH!

Plasticjungle.com, giftcardrescue.com and swapagift.com are a few of the multiple gift card exchange websites available, and they all pretty much operate the same way.  Basically they will buy your gift card at a percentage below what the gift card is worth.  Plastic jungle states that it will award up to 92% of the value for the gift card, but the percentage will vary depending on the demand for that particular card.  For example, a Target card will get you a higher percentage than a Sunglass Hut card.  So you won’t get the full value of the gift card back in cash, but if you have a $100 gift card to Babies R Us and you don’t have a baby, taking $75 in cash is still a pretty good deal.

On the flip side, you can also use these sites to buy gift cards at discounted prices.  I have used this tactic to purchase gift cards to stores I shop regularly in order to save money.  For example, if you like to eat at California Pizza Kitchen you can get a $50 card for $43.50 (a 13% saving) or if you’re planning to do some work around the house a $100 Home Depot card goes for $93 (a 7% savings).  If you’re planning to give gift cards as presents in the next few months this is a good way to purchase them at a discount.  Just make sure you buy ones that your friends and families will actually use so they don’t end up in the bottom of the sock drawer!

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Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.

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