As you may or may not know, I’m not a big fan of gift cards but many people are and many people enjoy both giving and receiving gift cards. However, sometimes you get a card that you don’t really shop at often or a card to a store that simply isn’t in your area, what can you do? There are only two options – sell it or trade it. Fortunately there are websites for both!
I’ll first profile some options if you want to sell your gift cards, then some options if you are willing to trade for another gift card. I’ll also give a brief fee breakdown across the various sites to give you a better sense of how much a transaction would cost. Finally, I put in an order of how I would go about cashing out a gift card in order to maximize return and minimize expenses.
Sell Your Gift Cards
To get the most out of your gift cards, other than by using them, I recommend selling them. The two best options for this are to sell them on eBay or sell them on Craigslist because both marketplaces are very big and the demand is very high.
With eBay , you’ll have to contend with seller related fees such as a list fee and a final value fee, but you have access to eBay’s marketplace and you’ll get the highest percentage return for your card. If you don’t have a seller account or you’re unfamiliar with setting up eBay auctions, this is probably not a good option for you because setting up an auction on eBay won’t be easy and buyers may not trust you because you have little feedback.
With Craigslist , listing a card is simple and costs absolutely nothing. The downside is that you likely will want to conduct the transaction in person and for cash. This is because the person buying will want to confirm the value of the card and if you’re in the area, they’ll probably want to meet. Doing the transaction in cash protects both parties.
I didn’t get to check this site out much myself but Gift Card Rescue  is another place you can try selling your gifts card to. The difference between card value and sale price doesn’t seem to be as large as some other sites.
Another option worth pursuing is to ask your friends if they plan on buying something at those stores. If so, you might be able to avoid all these headaches and sell the card directly to them.
Trade In Your Gift Cards
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of selling your cards, you can always trade them on websites that specialize in trading gift cards. They almost always have options for you to directly sell them the card but they take a percentage off the value as a service fee. The two most well known structured gift card trading sites are Card Avenue and Plastic Jungle, I’ve used neither.
Card Avenue  is like an eBay for gift card and a swap site all rolled into one. You can list a card for auction or you can trade with other members. Some of the benefits of the site are that you can buy insurance for your gift cards and there is a validation system (Cardassure ) to confirm the other trader has the amount they say they do. For auctions or trades, Cardavenue charges a 3.95% on the card value plus a $0.50 closing fee. On auctions, the fee is charged only to the seller. On trades, both sides pay that fee. Payment is through Paypal.
Plastic Jungle  is just like Card Avenue except it’s more expensive (10% fee on sales and trades!) but they do offer an option where you can sell your card directly to Plastic Jungle if it’s on their list of QuikCash merchants, which is why I list it. The list isn’t very extensive and the payout is 55-65% of face value but it covers many major brands.
Much like how you can try to sell your cards to your friends, try trading them. You can trade on sites like Craigslist or even try your favorite online bulletin boards. When the minimum cut is around 4.5%, it’s often worth it to do a little leg work to see if you can swap with people you already know.
Auction Fee Breakdown
To give you an idea of how much you’d pay to sell a $100 gift card (assuming it sold for $100), I calculated all the transaction fees by vendor:
- Craigslist: $0
- Card Avenue: $4.45 (fee listing )
- eBay: $4.82 (fee listing )
- Plastic Jungle: $10 (fee listing )
How to Maximize Returns
Of those sites, which gives you the best ROI for your card? It’s really difficult to say but in general trading will give you the best value because you’re trading gift card value for gift card value. You get less whenever you convert the gift card to cash because you’re going from a more restrictive currency (Home Depot dollars) to a less restrictive currency (anything dollars), so keep that in mind. This is the order I would pursue my options:
- Trade card for card with friends, online acquaintances, etc,
- Sell card to friends, online acquaintances,
- Trade card for card or sell for cash on Cragistlist,
- Sell or trade on Card Avenue,
- Sell on eBay,
- Sell or trade on Plastic Jungle,
- Sell directly to Plastic Jungle.
Do you have any advice for trading in or selling gift cards? Is there a site you use that is better the ones I listed? If so, please let me know as I think many people are hungry for this type of information right now!