Unwanted gift cards lying about? Trade 'em

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Wondering what to do with that stocking full of gift cards you don’t want?

A growing number of services are enabling consumers to trade those cards for cash, other cards or even rewards points for future purchases.

“There are a number of options out there,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for financial-information service “This is a field that’s only going to grow.”

If you want cash for your unwanted cards, you could sell them at online exchanges such as, GiftCards.

com and Be careful to use a reputable exchange — some scammers will take your cards and give you nothing in return.

While not an exchange, can tell you which of several online exchanges offers the best rate for the cards you want to sell. Granny also vets each exchange listed.

The exchanges typically pay between 50 and 90 percent of face value for the cards, which generally must be mailed in before you get a check or electronic payment.

You also could sell your unwanted cards at auction sites, such as or While you might raise a higher percentage of face value at auction sites, you also pay fees to use them.

Cardholders also can swap them for retailer reward points at, which closed its online card exchange this year. PlasticJungle will give you My Best Buy Points, United Airlines miles or a CVS drugstore gift card for your unwanted card.

Prefer to do your swap in person? Then head for the bright yellow Alula kiosk at

21 Giant Eagle grocery stores in the Columbus area. Launched in September 2012, the Giant Eagle Alula machines do thousands of transactions each month, said spokesman Brock Schmaltz.

Using Alula is straightforward: Enter your gift card, accept Alula’s offer of between 60 and 85 percent of your card’s face value and take your voucher to a cashier or customer-service representative in the store to get your cash.

“There’s a greater awareness now that there are exchanges,”’s McBride said. “What the consumer may not be aware of are the different options. It’s not necessarily one size fits all.”/apxh:p>

There could be quite a lot of exchanging going on because, when all the counting is done, gift-card spending is expected to hit a high of $29.8 billion this holiday season, with 8 in 10 shoppers reaching for the ubiquitous cards, according to the National Retail Federation.

Department stores topped card-givers’ lists 40.3 percent of the time, while restaurants were next at 34.2 percent, according to the retail association’s pre-holiday survey.

Nearly 1 in 5 gift-card buyers (19 percent) were expected to give the gift of a hot cup of coffee. What if you don’t drink coffee?

“Everybody at one time or another has received a gift card that makes you scratch your head and wonder how you’re going to use it,” McBride said.

Of course, getting rid of unwanted cards doesn’t necessarily require a formal program. You can always trade with family or friends for cards you do want, re-gift the cards or give them to charity.



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