How to Unload Gift Cards You'll Never Use

So you got a Home Depot gift card for Christmas, and you're strictly an Ace guy? Or you received Walmart, but you wanted Target?

Gift cards go unused to the tune of about $8 billion per year, which is why merchants love them. So make it your resolution to use up the ones you get. If you can't possibly spend them, you can unload them on sites like GiftCardBin, GiftCardRescue.com, or Plastic Jungle.

These sites pay sellers of gift cards a percentage of each card's value. Then the site lists them for sale, at a slightly higher price, but still at a discount from the face value. (Call it gift card arbitrage.)

I tried GiftCardBin out earlier this year with a $10 Blockbuster card, which had been gathering dust on my dresser for more than 18 months. I sent it in, and in about a week, I received a check for $6.50. Full value? No. But I'd rather have the $6.50 than the dust.

John Topete, a co-owner of GiftCardBin, says buyers pounce on the cards, sometimes to regift them, but more often to shop for their own family necessities. Grocery store and hardware store gift cards are scooped up within minutes of being listed on the site by thrifty shoppers looking to trim their bills. A current deal: An Ann Taylor loft card with a balance of $91.01 is selling for $77.36. (That's like having a 15 percent coupon.)

I've never been a huge fan of gift cards and the sentiment -- or lack thereof -- that they convey, so I'm happy to rid myself of the ones I can't use. Plastic Jungle even allows users to donate unwanted cards to charity. That's a thought I can appreciate.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Arvind Grover, CC 2.0.

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