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How to handle unwanted gift cards

By Paula Pant · Bankrate.com
Monday, May 6, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

Do you have a pile of unwanted gift cards gathering dust in a drawer?

Perhaps you have a Trader Joe's gift card that won't do you much good, since the nearest location is four states away. Or maybe you are an organic health food enthusiast who might not care for that gift card to The Melting Pot.

What should you do with unwanted gift cards? Here are a few tips.

Regift it. Our society teaches us that regifting is tacky. If you've received a present, you are supposed to keep it.

I can understand that argument when it comes to objects, such as throw pillows, that someone painstakingly chose for you. But a gift card is comparable to cash -- it has a value that you can spend. There's no harm in regifting the card to someone who will enjoy it.

Donate it. Believe it or not, many charities would be happy to collect gift cards, particularly if the cards allow the group to purchase supplies at stores such as Target, Home Depot or other retailers.

Some charities are also happy to receive restaurant gift cards that they can give to their top volunteers as a token of appreciation. Contact a local charity in your area to see if it accepts gift card donations.

Sell it. I often buy unwanted gift cards online for a discount of about 5 percent to 15 percent off the face value. If you know you won't use the card, sell it online and recoup 70 percent to 95 percent of its value.

Many websites allow you to buy and sell gift cards, including Plastic Jungle, Cardpool, ABC Gift Cards, GiftCardRescue and GiftCardBin. You can also sell your cards on eBay.

Generally speaking, you'll get the highest value for the stores with the broadest appeal. Target and Amazon.com gift cards, for example, tend to sell for pretty close to face value, while gift cards to specialty stores such as Lands' End tend to sell for bigger discounts.

Paula Pant blogs at AffordAnything.com about creating wealth and living life on your own terms. She's traveled to nearly 30 countries, owns five rental units and works for herself. Follow Paula on Twitter @AffordAnything.

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