How to Make the Most of Your Holiday Gift Cards
Now that the holidays are over, we’re guessing you’re now the proud owner of at least one new gift card.
Gifts cards are a hit during the holidays because they’re small and easy to travel with, and ensure that the gift recipient is able to pick out something they actually want (or fit in) rather than ending up stuck with a gift fail instead.
That said, billions of dollars in gift cards sit unused every year because people forget to use them, lose them before they redeem them, or let a gift card sit around so long that it expires.
If you received a gift card this holiday season, here are some of the best ways to make sure it doesn’t go to waste:
Use Your Gift Cards ASAP
Most gift cards end up wasted because the recipient either loses them or forgets they have them in the first place. The easiest way to combat that is to simply make plans to use that holiday gift card ASAP.
For instance, if you received a gift card for a local restaurant, go ahead and get a night out on the calendar. If you have a gift card for a local store, browse the site and decide what you want to spend it on. In general, the sooner you use those gift cards the better.
Every day you don’t use it, you’re also essentially giving that retailer an interest-free loan.
Exchange that Gift Card for Cash
If you live in certain states (or happen to be traveling in them), then stores are required to give you cash in exchange for your gift card. In all cases, the balance has to be under a certain amount of money, so you might still have to use it for a purchase.
For instance, in California, you can redeem a gift card for cash if the balance is less than $10. In Colorado, Montana, Maine, and Washington you can do the same if the balance is under $5. Here’s a full list of states where you can turn that card into cash.
Buy, Sell, or Trade Your Card Online
If you don’t think you’re ever going to use a gift card, there are a handful of options for how to buy, sell, or trade if for something else. The sites Giftah, Cardavenue, and Gift Cards Again offer online marketplaces where you can attempt to swap or sell what you have.
Some Coinstar kiosks will also purchase your gift cards; however, they definitely won’t offer you full retail for them. In most cases, you can expect to get between 60-80% of the gift card’s value.
United will also allow you to exchange your gift card for miles.
Donate Your Gift Card to Charity
If you don’t need or want a gift card, then donating it to charity can be a great way for it to go to good use. Organizations like Goodwill, Plywood, and Works of Life all accept gift cards as donations. Depending on the gift card, other charities in your area may be willing to take it. For instance, a Target gift card could be used by a local charity to buy supplies.