Selling Unwanted Gift Cards For Cash: Price Comparison

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.com, 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)

 


Cardpool

Plastic Jungle

 


GiftCards.com

GiftCardRescue
$92 $92 $91 $85
$83 $83 $86 $80
$83 $83 $83 $72
$75 $75 $72 $70

Results

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?

Comments

  1. How do the going prices on eBay compare to these websites?

    I guess we should also do a comparison on the price to *buy* gift cards if you are sure you are going to shop at those stores. Also see which gift cards exchange charges the lowest spread between the price to buy and the price to sell.

  2. Weird. I thought based on giftcardsgranny.com plastic jungle is best to sell, and giftcards.com is best to buy. At least the later is true: giftcards.com is best to buy gc especially after the refferal fee, something like 5% (check cashbackwatch.com) However those cards go out of stock much faster at giftcards.com so you need to get notifications when the cards get in.

  3. Oh, and the reason Amazon certif. Are not for sale is because of high fraud potential. If somebody has a stolen credit card number and address they usually need to receive that physical card to that address. However the certificate will be emailed to the fraudster devised email address.

    I learn it hard way: I bought two netflix gift certificate on ebay and both had their original method of pmt disputed and balance canceled within days to months !

  4. @TFB – They are about the same order as these websites, if not not better for the highest paying sites vs. eBay final profit after all fees.

    I still can’t get myself to buy gift cards that have already been activated and seen by at least one stranger, in addition to the lack of liquidity. The only time would perhaps be to Home Depot before a large purchase, but then the risk rises as well.

    Perhaps if one of these companies becomes big enough to guarantee transactions and reimburses any fraud immediately.

    @Serge – Aren’t some other merchant gift cards also able to be sent electronically, like iTunes?

  5. @Jonathan I believe you can’t sent any email certificate codes to these websites (only actual cards).

    Also while I am a bit worried of scratche pin on the card, I think that is necessary because if the card is lost in the mail you can still use the balance. Plus you get at least several months protection from both your credit card and the website, so if I for example go over $100 of cat food and cat litter over three months, I get the Petco gc for the value around $100 (at giftcard.com is about 20% off after referal cash back) To avoid any funny business I track its overall balance at mint.com

    If websites guarantee one year protection I would be much more comfortable getting bigger amts though.

  6. I recently sold my office max gift card to plastic jungle and mailed it to them using their prepaid mailing label. It has been 15 days and the status still says awaiting my card. I emailed them yesterday and no response yet. I dont think their prepaid label includes tracking.!

    Luckily its a $35 gift card. But if ur selling higher balances, I recommend using their prepaid label but adding on tracking information. If USPS, u have to make the envelope 3/4 inches thick to add on delivery confirmation.

    Oh yeah, another thing. Saw this guy selling $5000 home depot gift card for $4000 on CG. I thought I could turn it around and resell it to plasticjungle for a better rate. Turns out, he was probably trying to scam me. He said he will not let me xerox his drivers license for privacy concerns. I said fair enough. I told him how about me veryfying his real name by looking at his driver’s licence and that too he said no for privacy reasons. Told him no deal.

    I googled home depot gift card scams and there are few people who have fallen for it. It seems there are many ways people can scam u with gift cards. Possible ways include:

    1. they can make a photocopy of the back of the card (some gift cards have no magnetic strips but rather bar codes) and then use it when doing self check out

    2. Some can clone the magnetic strips

    3. Some have the gift card number and pin and will wipe out the balance once they sell it to u.

    Lesson learned is not to buy from an individual especially if higher amounts.

  7. @xmasy I’ve sold several times with plastic jungle and did not have any problems. Have you tried calling them ? I assume they are too busy with xmas season, but that’s not a good excuse for poor customer service. You should get the value of card even if its lost in the mail, since you can use it online can’t you, and plastic jungle has your card’s pin and number which they will send you back if they don’t receive the card, don’t they? (Its always a good idea to record the pin and number before mailing anything)

  8. Wow! Thanks for doing this research! Super insightful. I’ll have to use giftcards.com the next time I get a gift card I won’t use.

  9. I used to buy discounted movie theater gift cards on Ebay and usually saved about 20% and never had any problems. If I did I should have been able to get my money back through PayPal.

  10. I assume you know, but in case not, the New York Times’ Bucks blog wrote up your article:

    http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com.....ompare/?hp

  11. oddly, Staples gets you a much better return on plasticjungle than the other sites.

  12. i just used plastic jungle they gave me the best rate for a $30 office depot i am though still waiting for my money its been only a few days

  13. This is why gift cards are a terrible gift. Just give cash! People think that giving a gift card shows a little more thought, but it doesn’t. It just adds the risk of giving someone an unwanted gift that they can’t return and have to send to a cockamamie website.

  14. I agree with Dave L. What is with the fascination with gift cards? It’s because the buyer now has incentive to buy them with the savings programs at grocery stores.

  15. @Dave L. At this year’s company secret santa the gift minimum was $10 with no maximum. So I got this guy a restaurant.com certificate with a face value of $100; retail price of $40 For which I paid ….$5….now there is fine print…there is always fine print at this kind of deals, but it does sound impressive doesn’t and I was ahead $5 (since I got $10 cash from my Secret Santa)

  16. @Serge — now who do you think was happier with their Secret Santa gift, you (walking away with $10) or the other guy (walking away with a $5 gift that he may or may not ever use)?

    And BTW, if restaurant.com certificates are always on 80% off sale, they don’t really have a $40 retail price.

  17. @Dave Actually he will never know I gave him a $5 gift, he would think its $100, and even if he’ll lookup online he’ll see it retailing for $40, and even if he finds the 80% off sale which can be a time-limited offer, that’s still $8 (not the $5 I paid !)

    And with gift certificates that never expires, if he still not uses it within lets say 5-10 years. I will (since I still have the code). Why have any waste ?

    I agree that cash is better, except when the giver know how to get great deals like myself. So I gave two people OralB 5000 Toothbrush that retails $170, and I got it for ….$20 (after 2 separate rebates, 2 seperate coupons and one site referral)

    Now imagine giving $20 bucks, and now imagine getting something that is worth almost ten times as much ! Which would you want as a gift ?

  18. Nice – great tip. I just returned a Blu Ray player to Best Buy and they gave me a Gift Card. No way in hell I’d buy from them as they’re more expensive than amazon and charge tax. Now I can sell the GC and take the cash to get something I really want (blu ray player is 100% worthless to me).

  19. update: plasticjungle got my card after almost 2 weeks and are processing my check

  20. @Joseph – I did see that since I read the Bucks blog. Sweet! :)

    In my experience, most people haven’t heard about Restaurant.com certificates. I would say the “retail” value is $10 for a $25 certificate. So when it is 80% off, the certificate only costs $2. Here’s a page I made with the current promo codes auto-updated:

    http://www.mymoneyblog.com/res.....-discounts

    I don’t like the idea of giving close friends what is essentially a coupon, but for a $10 office secret santa I would be okay with it.

  21. I’ve had great experience with plastic jungle. I sold a $270 best buy gift card to them and after a bit more than a week got about $250 in an amazon gift card in my e-mail.

    Also bought 3 e-gift cards for toys r us from them and they were e-mailed within a couple hours.

    I believe plastic jungle will guarantee the gift card’s value in cases of fraud. In any case I’d never buy a gift card from another person (e-bay) unless I knew them personally.

  22. i think Jonathon had a post a while back about gift card and how they just give said company money to hold, while the user may or may not actually use them all the while the company is making money from the interest

  23. i didn’t know such services existed. should have guessed. love the idea. agreed with the last comment, gift cards are great revenue boosters, often times negligible balances / overages are left on a card and those add up across the board.

  24. Had my credit card number stolen last week and used to buy almost $200 worth of gift cards at plasticjungle. I’d never heard of them before this. Card’s been cancelled & have been credited the charge, but I’m guessing there are gift cards floating around out there bought with stolen cards like mine. Anyone know if this is a common scam?

  25. I tried using Cardpool to purchase $147.10 worth of electronic gift cards for Lowes. Although your other suggested sites sold the cards with more of a discount, I was enticed by the less than 24 hour turnaround promised by Cardpool.com for the electronic codes which was unique to that site. Well, three days and an email to their support later, I have not received my electronic certificates nor have I heard anything. Beware when dealing with Cardpool.com!

  26. Updated with 2012 data for the new post-holiday season.

  27. I’ve used both plastic jungle and cardpool. I prefer plastic jungle, the customer service is better and I got my money quicker, however both went through smoothly.

  28. J12*34212 says:

    I am stuck.I have a bunch of amazon gift cards that I have no use for and there is no way to cash them out. Any suggestions on what will be the best route to get rid of amazon gift cards.

    Wish they sold other stores gift cards that u can buy from them, but apparently they dont.

  29. Just check Citi ThankYou rewards, they have Amazon $100 gift card codes for 9000 pts

  30. @J12*34212 – Why not just sell them on eBay?

  31. Thanks so much for posting this information. I just got rid of 2 giftcards, $25.00 each, and am getting a check for $39.50! I used Cardpool, I’m getting the best amount of money from them.

    Once again, thanks, your website is great!

    Tony

  32. can’t find anywhere that buys itunes gift cards. I wonder why not. They sell them. guess I’ll check ebay.

  33. @J12*34212 – as someone who tells everyone who asks what to get him for XMAS “Amazon Gift Cards,” I’m puzzled by your confusion of what to do with yours.

    I could understand not knowing what to do with a gift card to a specialty store where you never shop, but you can order almost anything at Amazon. Heck, if you really don’t know what else to do with it, use it up on your next purchases of laundry detergent and razor blades!

  34. @J12*34212 – You’re in luck!

    I just noticed Amazon does in fact sell other stores’ and restaurants’ gift cards. Just go to amazon and search on “gift cards” or “restaurants” and scroll down past the Amazon ones. Starbucks, Kohl’s, AMC, Subway, iTunes, Outback, Home Depot, list goes on… Good luck!

  35. Amazon sells other cards, BUT their policy doesn’t allow you to buy any GC with a GC. (Unless they changed it recently.)

    I have traded GCs before. Sometimes I have cards I don’t need. Or sometimes merchandise is traded for a GC. Win-win situations as we both get something we like more. I love Amazon, Kindle, eBay, and many other stores and sites. I only trade with people with great feedback, or if they send first. I have years and years of positive feedback that I can prove.

    I have sold to Plastic Jungle and I have bought from Card Pool. I will buy from them in the future, and I would sell to PJ again. I would probably sell to other sites.

  36. Great info on turning giftcards into cash. I’ve tried eBay in the past with no real luck. Looking forward to trying the new sites

  37. You could just use giftcardgranny.com to do your price comparison.

  38. Giftcardgranny doesn’t include all of the merchants listed above, and all it ever says for 2 out of 5 merchants compared including eBay is “up to 100%” which doesn’t really help.

  39. Jeff Issis says:

    I don’t know about some of these issues you are experiencing but I have been using http://www.ecardexchange.com for the last 6 months and I save 10% off at Lowes. They are always willing to take my phone calls and help me make the whole process easier. I tried calling the other places and never even got a return phone call. Too bad for them, I have a granite shop and bought over $30,000 worth of cards from ecardexchange and as far as I am concerned I will not shop elsewhere.

  40. Be careful when buying high amount cards from individuals especially from craiglist. I got scam a few times on HD and Victoria Secrets even though balance was checked out but after a short time, they emptied the cards. Victory secret cards didn’t have scratched pins in some cases but they managed to emptied them. Maybe I will need to buy small card like $100 or less with receipts. btw – I resold them on some web sites.

  41. I’ve been using CouponTrade for a couple of months and its been great. They charge a commission but, your also selling your gift cards to other users. I’m a bulk seller on there so they offer discounts on their fees for larger volume.

    The cool part is that you choose the selling price for your item. They don’t low ball you like these other sites. Besides, have you ever seen Plastic Jungle’s horrible reviews? Check out their facebook page.

    You can also buy discounted gift cards from any store, they have great deals on everything! Did I mention they have coupon codes as well that you can stack with your gift card purchase?

    Another cool thing is that you can sell any gift card or store credit, from any store, at any denomination either local or national. Check it out, here is where you go to sell – http://www.coupontrade.com/sell-gift-cards

  42. Sounds good I will check it out. You mentioned another great idea to use discount coupons to purchase gift cards – wondering what kind of discount after applying coupons 10-20%? Thanks

  43. For instance you can take a card like this Macy’s gift card –

    http://www.coupontrade.com/gift-cards/macys-202

    and combine it with a Macy’s coupon for $10 OFF $75

    http://www.coupontrade.com/cou.....ant/macy-s

    Now if you buy that gift card at 7-10% OFF and you add a $10 OFF $75 which is 13% OFF so if you combine those savings your looking at an additional 20-23% OFF just for shopping smart and combining a discount gift card.

Trackbacks

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