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Three ways to use unwanted gift cards

(MoneyWatch) With the holidays receding in the rear view mirror, you might find that you have a small stack of unused and unwanted gift cards lying around. For a variety of reasons, a lot of gift cards go completely unused each year -- to the tune of $2 billion in 2012, according to credit card resource site CardHub. Whether you have completely pristine cards, or a stack of cards with oddball balances, there are a number of ways you can use gift cards that might otherwise just collect dust and eventually get thrown away.

Sell them for cash. If you have a gift card to a store you simply have no interest in shopping at, sell the card for something you can use: Cash. CardHub, for example, operates an online gift card exchange where you can turn unused cards into cash. Gift cards are a popular gift year round for birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and other holidays and occasions.

Donate gift cards to charity. When people think about making tax-deductible donations, they often consider all sorts of personal property -- from computers to furniture to old clothing -- but gift cards are a valuable and sought-after donation instrument. Charities generally accept gift cards, and if your target charity doesn't, you can redeem the card and donate the goods you bought with it.

Re-gift unused cards. If you've never cut into a card, give it to someone else -- unlike physical goods, it's pretty much impossible to tell that a gift card has been re-gifted.

Photo courtesy Flickr user 401(K) 20123

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