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3 ways to exchange lousy gift cards for what you really want

If you’re like most people, you have a small stack of unused gift cards collecting dust somewhere. Why? Because kind-hearted people gifted them to you, not realizing they’re to stores you don’t really like.

How much money is sitting in that pile, going to waste? Why not sell them for cash or exchange them for gift cards to places you actually want to shop at instead? This way you can visit your favorite retailer’s site and get that outfit you’ve been eyeing up lately. Tap or click for 4 essential steps to safer online shopping.

But how can you sell or exchange them safely? What if people try to scam you? While there are dangers of being scammed, certain apps and online gift card marketplaces can help ensure your exchange goes smoothly.

What’s a gift card marketplace?

As the name implies, gift card marketplaces are online and physical markets designed to help you swap and sell gift cards. There are several sites advertising gift card sales, such as eBay and Craigslist, but these are known hunting grounds for scammers. Tap or click here for 5 types of eBay scams.

One popular scam is selling the card, then using up the balance the moment a buyer turns their back. With digital gift card holder apps and the ability to upload balances with just the numbers from the card, you can wind up getting nothing in the end. Tap or click for apps that help you manage your gift cards in one place.

If you want to purchase or trade gift cards without worrying about being scammed, visit dedicated gift card marketplaces. These sites have built-in safety measures and help the process go off without a hitch.

1. Cardpool

Purchase discounted gift cards or exchange the ones you don’t want with Cardpool. There are no fees to sign up, no expiration dates and includes free USPS shipping. The company verifies gift card balances and guarantees all orders and transactions with a one-year guarantee.

Though it can’t promise someone will buy your gift card right away, when someone does purchase it, you get paid within three business days. If you don’t want to go online to their website, you can visit a kiosk, or simply download the free iOS app — sorry, Android. There’s no app for you, yet.

If you’re buying physical or digital gift cards, just search by category on the app or website. Easy, right? And if you’re selling your cards, visit a kiosk to get paid right away.

Here’s how the kiosk works:

  1. Check the balance of your gift cards. This is usually written on the gift card, but you can also visit the website or call the number on the back. You will need a minimum of $20 on the card to use the kiosk.
  2. Take the cards to the yellow kiosk. (Find a location.)
  3. Enter the gift card information.
  4. Review the cash back offer (up to 85% of the card’s value) and decide whether to accept.
  5. If you accept, you can receive a Visa gift card, cash or a cash voucher you can redeem at the customer service desk.

For questions about the kiosk, visit Cardpool’s FAQ page.

2. Raise

When you want to pay with gift cards, turn to Raise. You can save up to 30% on discounted gift card brands at Raise’s marketplace and can combine them with coupons and store sales to make even more affordable purchases.

Unlike Cardpool, Raise also offers cash back incentives when you buy face-value cards. Sell your gift cards for cash or buy discounted ones for places you’ll actually want to visit.

It offers a one-year, money-back guarantee, so if you buy a card that winds up being inactive or has a balance different to what you purchased, you’re covered.

Just use the free Apple or Android app, or visit the website to buy gift cards from sellers who don’t want the cards they have. Search by brand or store name, check out online coupons or sell cards of your own. Give it a try and see if Raise is right for you.

3. Gift Card Granny

We all have gift cards we don’t really want and we can’t exactly tell the person we hate their gift, so it makes sense to turn to the one person who always supports us: granny. Well, Gift Card Granny, that is.

Gift Card Granny is a website designed to help you sell your gift cards for cash in three simple steps:

  1. Go to and enter the gift card brand.
  2. Enter the remaining balance.
  3. Submit and review the offers, then get paid via PayPal, check or ACH.

It’s a pretty cut-and-dry system, and if you feel like purchasing cards from other users, check out their discount and new cards. Search by brand, whether they are physical or digital cards and more.

And if you’re always on the go, use the free app for Apple or Android.

Stay safe

As with most instances when buying and selling, there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind.

Here are a few ways to ensure you’re not being taken for a ride:

  • Do not buy or sell gift cards through websites that do not offer guarantees, such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or eBay. If someone scams you, neither site will compensate you.
  • Never give a potential buyer a picture of the card, or read them the numbers so they can “verify” if there really is a balance on it. This is just another way scammers can steal the money on the card without having to pay a single cent.
  • If you’re too afraid to sell or trade, even with a trusted site, consider spending the gift card on items that you can then sell for cash. This way, no one can steal the balance on your gift cards.

Now that you know how to safely buy, sell and trade gift cards, it’s time to dust off those old cards and finally get rid of them. Happy shopping!

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