Updated with current price quotes for 2012!
Now, I always love every gift card that I get… but what if you’re trying to simplify your life and wanted to convert your Overpriced.com gift card to good ole’ fungible cash?
Well, the “old-fashioned” way was to sell them on eBay. A couple years ago, I tested out eBay and found estimated eBay cash-out ratios after eBay auction costs and Paypal transaction fees ranged from 81% for Gap gift cards to 90% for Amazon gift certificates. However, the eBay route adds in hassle and potential for fraud. What if some buyer from across the country says your card arrived empty?
A bunch of new websites have popped up that (1) provide upfront quotes for your gift cards, (2) provide a prepaid mailer to send in your cards, and (3) send you a check. The most popular ones appear to be Cardpool, PlasticJungle, GiftCards.com, and GiftCardRescue. Many of these go even further and offer things like online redemption using the codes on the back of the certain cards, and instant payouts via PayPal or via Amazon.com gift certificates.
However, I just wanted to run a simple comparison of what different card-buying websites would offer in straight-up cash for a $100 gift card at various retailers. I’m ignoring any swap-style sites, and also sites like CardWoo that make you mail in the card first without any upfront pricing quotes (why would I do that? sounds like an awful idea). Here are the results, updated for 2012:
Gift Card Website Comparison ($100 Face Value, Updated 2012)
When I first ran this comparison in December 2011, the website that offered the highest prices, on average, was GiftCards.com. However, as of January 2012 the overall winners are Cardpool and PlasticJungle. In either case, none of them had the highest prices across the board so if you can spare the time, trying each of the sites out may earn you a few more bucks. In the end, I would say that these sites do provide a useful service, as the payouts are often even better than what you could net after fees by selling directly on eBay.
The cards to stores that have the broadest appeal like Target and Home Depot have the best cash-out ratios. Something to think about next time you want to buy your buddy a gift card from StuffedMooseHeadsOnly.com.
I found it interesting that none of the sites wanted to buy an Amazon.com gift certificate from me, as they historically have a very high resale value. I’m guessing that Amazon forbids this somehow, or perhaps you can’t check the balance without adding it to a user’s account?