Did Santa bring you gift cards this holiday season? If they're for stores you actually like, then shop away! But what if your gift cards are for places you consider more ho hum than ho, ho, ho -- and you know you'll never use them? Letting them sit in your wallet unused is just a big waste of money. The retailer gets paid, and doesn't even have to sell any merchandise.
It's estimated that 5 billion dollars from last year's gift card sales will go unspent. Yes, 5 billion! Don't become a statistic; instead, make the most of unwanted gift cards with these 5 smart strategies:
1. Sell/swap. Thanks to sites like Ebay, Plastic Jungle, Swapagift, Gift Card Buy Back and GiftCardRescue you can now buy, sell or swap gift cards online. MSN Money has a great article explaining some of the ins and outs of using gift card swap/sell/buy sites.
2. Shop for others. Use your card's balance to buy stuff for this year's birthday gifts or even next year's holiday season. Who says the balance has to be spent on something for you, anyway? Free from Broke has a bunch of ideas for maximizing your gift card's spending power.
3. Be charitable. Donate unwanted cards to the needy. Or ask a local charity or non-profit to name something they really need that's in your price range, then use the card to buy that item.
4. Re-gift it. Don't like the gift card? Go ahead and make someone else's day. Just make extra-sure the card is not old and expired before you do so!
5. Cash out. According to this Wise Bread post, you might be able to retrieve small amounts of cash from your gift card's balance at some stores. Hey, it doesn't hurt to ask.
Before you consider using old gift cards for any purpose, be aware of the fine print: Some cards come with expiration dates, as mentioned above, and others may devalue over time with cunning little fees imposed by the card issuer that eat away at the balance.