Best Gift Card Exchange 2019- Swap, Trade and Sell Gift Cards
We spent 60 hours using and researching gift card exchange websites to figure out which ones give you the largest return on investment along with the best selection and easy-to-use extras. If selling your unused and unwanted gift cards online sounds a little sketchy, don’t worry: we also scoured the Better Business Bureau website to see which services have had consumer-reported complaints. It didn’t fare the best in our selection test, but Cardpool is the best gift card exchange out there because you’re guaranteed a return of up to 92 percent when you sell your cards in person or online. It has an A+ from the BBB and an app for shopping or selling on the go. The website is also very easy to use, offers you a ton of payout options and doesn’t charge any extraneous fees, making it our best overall pick.
Cardpool is an easy-to-use gift card exchange where you’ll get a high return on cards sold online or in-person and can help you to easily find others for sale at steep discounts.
CardCash has one of the best rates of return if you’re looking to sell unwanted gift cards as well as steep discounts on cards for purchase.
Gift Card Granny
Gift Card Granny got the best grade possible in our selection test and has a vast selection of gift cards.
Cardpool is easy to use, has an app and gives you a high return on cards you sell online, in-store or at a kiosk.
If you’re selling unwanted gift cards you can expect up to 92 percent of its full value, in line with the best websites we tested. You sell your card directly to Cardpool, so while the return you’ll get for your card varies by retailer, demand and time of year there’s no waiting around for a shopper to purchase your card. You’ll see discounts of up to 35 percent on cards you want to purchase. Cardpool also guarantees cards for 1 year, making it our best overall pick.
Cardpool didn’t have any of the cards we were specifically seeking during our selection test, where we looked for cards from Amazon, Walmart and Target. Still, this website has a lot to choose from. It’s easy to browse the website or free mobile app and once you’ve selected a retailer you can see how much each card is discounted. You’ll also see how many gift cards are left in any given amount from any given retailer as well as whether it’s a physical or digital card. As with all gift card exchanges, availability and discount changes almost daily.
The other reason we really liked Cardpool is the speedy shipping. If you’re selling a gift card you don’t want, you can expect payment in 5-10 business days and you’ll get physical gift cards you purchase in 3-7. With a seamless, intuitive website and great discounts, Cardpool is the best gift card exchange out there.
CardCash is a top-rated gift card exchange site that makes it clear how much of a discount you will receive.
The discount information appears once you select a retailer and browse by dollar amount. A price drop notification at the top of the page also tips you off to gift cards with particularly big discounts. For example, we saw Nike gift cards for almost 10 percent off during testing. If you're looking to sell unwanted gift cards you can earn up to 92 percent of their value, among the most of the websites we tested. You can also choose between direct deposit, PayPal or a mailed check for your payout, or simply swap one card for another.
CardCash gift cards are guaranteed for 45 days, so in that time frame you'll get a refund if the card you ordered comes from the wrong retailer or in the wrong amount. The Better Business Bureau gave CardCash a B- rating, noting users having problems with cards expiring 45 days after purchase. CardCash recommends you use the gift card before the 45 days is up to stay within the guarantee period.
Founded in 2009, CardCash carries gift cards from a ton of retailers. Availability varies day to day and the website earned a lukewarm C+ grade on our selection test, but generally you can expect to have about 1,100 retailers to choose from according to the website.
To gauge how good the selection was for each website we tested, we looked for three common retailers: Target, Amazon and Walmart. Gift Card Granny had all three.
The website earned one of only two A+ grades in our tests. Just a cursory glance at their home page reveals they’ve got a lot to pick from including Subway, Fandango, IKEA and Nike. Take note though; you won’t get physical gift cards from this website as Gift Card Granny deals solely in electronic gift cards. The upside to this is you won’t have to wait for a card to come to you in the mail.
Gift Card Granny is also a great place to sell your unwanted gift cards. You’ll get up to a 92 percent return and the transaction can take place online or in a Gift Card Granny store. The only downside to the in-person trade is that there aren’t any Gift Card Granny stores in rural areas. That being said, this website has the largest variety of payout options when you sell a gift card. You can opt for direct deposit, PayPal, a check in the mail or swap your unwanted card for another gift card you’ll actually use.
The Gift Card Granny app is another way you can buy, sell or trade gift cards on the go. It's free and the layout is very similar to the desktop version so there's no learning curve. Whether you use the app or your home computer you can earn reward points that can translate to free gift cards. You'll get 200 points just for creating an account and once you're up to 1,000 points you'll get a free gift card.
Best Shopper Guarantee
Raise’s one-year money back guarantee assures you won’t get duped by any dishonest gift card sellers.
The guarantee means Raise will refund you if the card you get isn’t active or has an inaccurate balance. They also cover it if you get the wrong card entirely or if a physical card isn’t in your hands 30 days after you buy it, though shipping time typically takes 3-14 days. Aside from this great guarantee, Raise has an easy to use app and has no flagged problems with the Better Business Bureau, earning a B+ rating. You’ll get up to 85 percent of the value of any card you sell and while it’s not the best return on investment of the websites we tested, it’s still relatively high. You can get your payout conveniently through direct deposit or PayPal or if you’re a little old fashioned, a check in the mail.
Best Website Design
Gift Card Spread’s website is airy, easy to use and frankly fun to look at!
This website gets straight to the point of buying or selling gift cards without any unnecessary ads or complicated instructions. The option to buy or sell gift cards is displayed clearly at the top of the home page along with a group of best-selling gift cards. When browsing cards for sale, the value, price and discount is the first thing you see. If you don't want to buy right away you can easily add certain gift cards to your wish list, which is easy to find at the top of the web page as well. To sell unwanted gift cards you just have to enter the card's information and submit it. An explanation of how the process works is written on the page in easy to digest paragraphs. You submit your card, get a response within 24 hours, set up how you'd like to get paid and get your payout in up to 10 business days.
Why Trust Us?
We’ve been reviewing gift card exchange websites since 2010, and we know it can seem like a roller coaster. The payout for selling a card and the discounts available when buying them seem to fluctuate almost daily.
Mike Jack, the general manager at Cardpool, said that’s because it’s a supply-and-demand market. The more of a certain card a website has, the more of a discount they’ll offer on it. On the other hand, if there is a high demand for a small number of cards, the discount will be less.
The gift card market is massive. Physical cards are growing at an annual rate of 6 percent but digital cards are doing the same at a rate of 200 percent, according to CardCash.
Jack said with so many people using gift cards, exchange websites like Cardpool can be very useful.
“At the end of the day it’s getting the right brands in the right hands,” he said.
Marina Hodges, chair of the Retail Gift Card Association said the group is made up of about 90 members representing retailers, card producers, gift card exchanges and others. She said opinions differ by retailer, but most are in support of exchanges.
“If I’m a retailer it’s great for me because then the person who has my card is going to shop with me versus throw it in a drawer,” Hodges said.
Tips & Tricks
The RGCA was founded in 2008, and its goal is to grow and preserve the gift card industry. At the same time, the group recognizes the risks associated with using third-party resellers like gift card exchange websites. In an official statement on the RGCA website, users are encouraged to educate themselves on gift card exchanges before using one. It has several tips to keep in mind while shopping for gift cards to ensure you're getting a good deal and avoiding fraud:
- Use exchange services that verify the balance of a gift card before selling it.
- Make sure you can track your payout method through the gift card exchange website.
- Use gift card exchanges with buyer guarantees that are in effect even after you receive your card.
- Never give out gift card information over the phone to someone claiming to be with the police, a utility company, the government or any other third party. These agencies do not accept payment via gift card.
- Store your cards in a secure place.
- Until you’re ready to use the card, leave the scratch-off material on the PIN number on the back of the card.
- Use gift cards quickly.
- Read the fine print. Make sure gift cards don't have any extraneous fees.
Cardpool is unique in that it offers its gift card exchange service through kiosks. These kiosks are usually located inside another store, such as a Target, and you can locate one using Cardpool's online map search feature. Once you find a location, simply bring all your unwanted gift cards to that store and swipe them at the machine. You can also exchange electronic gift cards.
The downside is the cards must have at least $15 on them and no more than $1,000, so that Starbucks card in your wallet with a couple dollars on it won’t work. You can get up to 85 percent of the card's value at a kiosk, though your return will vary depending on the type of gift card you exchange. The kiosk prompts you to enter your personal information and then offers you cash in return for the cards. Finally, you collect your money from the store's service desk or at the kiosk if you have a reloadable Visa gift card.
To use a kiosk you need a government-issued ID, cell phone number, email address and sometimes a credit card number. This is to prevent fraud and keep someone else from collecting your cash at the store’s service desk. If you are asked to enter credit card information, Cardpool will never charge it without your permission. However, if the gift card you sell was obtained illegally, you could be charged.
If you are used to using Coinstar kiosks you probably noticed some changes in recent years. Cardpool now owns Coinstar Exchange kiosks, so these machines can also be used for counting your change and giving you cash along with exchanging your unwanted gift cards. These machines are usually green. Gift Card Exchange kiosks are yellow and only work with gift cards.
If you have unused gift cards, another company to check out is Zeek. This company will buy your unwanted gift cards and give you up to 95 percent of their value. You can also shop for gift cards at a discounted price. The London-based company works most effectively in the United Kingdom and pays you in Zeek credit, through PayPal or via bank transfer. You can use Zeek credit to buy discounted gift cards on the website. Zeek claims it takes an average of 36 minutes to sell your unwanted gift cards, after which you get paid.
Since launching in 2015, Zeek has gained 550,000 registered users, so you have pretty good odds that someone will buy your unwanted gift card quickly. In 2018 alone, the company sold 707 gift card brands. We didn't include this service in our tests, but we saw gift cards from a wide variety of retailers, including H&M, Starbucks, Ticketmaster and Pizza Hut. The website is easy to use, but it's not ideal for people in the U.S., as all of the prices are in British pounds. The website's help center is useful for troubleshooting, if you run into problems.
If the companies we tested aren't giving you the results you want, try Card Kangaroo. This website had an inventory of about 1,300 cards as of March 2019 and has served nearly 59,000 customers. You can use this website to buy, sell or trade your unwanted gift cards or simply check the remaining balance of a card you found in your wallet. CardKangaroo guarantees the stated balance up to $500 of purchased gift cards for 100 days from the day you buy them. They accept major credit cards as well as PayPal.
If you're looking to sell cards you simply select the merchant, value of the card and get an offer from the website. This company is unique in that you'll receive a shipping label and be asked to mail your gift card in, rather than simply providing the card's number and other information. If this isn't too much of a hurdle for you, CardKangaroo is a great gift card swap option. You'll receive payment via a check in the mail or through PayPal.
If you'd rather trade for a different gift card you simply click that option after providing information about the card you no longer want. Once you've picked which gift card you want you'll have to ship yours in before getting the one you swapped it for in the mail.
How We Tested
We went through every part of these gift card exchange websites to see how well they work and whether they’re worth your time. We bought 20 gift cards and found out how much we could get in return for selling them. We also checked out how big the discounts were on cards available for purchase. When it was an option, we also downloaded the app to make sure it worked as advertised and while the majority of gift cards out there are digital, we also looked at shipping rates for shoppers looking for a physical gift card.
The number and variety of retailers you can buy gift cards on exchange websites changes all the time. Instead of trying to keep our thumb on how many individual retailers were available, we searched for three big players – Target, Amazon and Walmart – at the same time on the same day across all the websites we tested. We then assigned a letter grade corresponding to whether the website had cards available for purchase from those retailers.
We also used the Better Business Bureau to make sure these gift card exchange websites are legitimate. The BBB is a consumer watchdog group which assigns ratings A+ through F to companies based on information from business and customer complaints. These ratings aren’t a guarantee, but they’re helpful in seeing whether businesses and websites have had consistent problems or consumer complaints.
Prepaid vs. Gift Cards
A gift card is essentially like cash you can only spend at a specific store. You use the card until the balance is gone and then discard it, though some retailers allow you to add more money to the card so you can continue spending with it. Not all stores allow you to reload existing cards, and there's a chance the store could give you a new gift card every time you want to add money. One red flag to look for are fees, as gift cards shouldn’t have any. If a retailer tries to charge you a fee for using a gift card, we recommend using another method of payment or simply shopping elsewhere.
Prepaid cards are designed to be reloadable, and as such, they sometimes carry fees. These vary by card, so it’s important to read the fine print if you go this route. These cards are often available from credit card companies like Visa and can be used on everyday expenses. Wallet Hub found prepaid cards can cost a person up to $311 per year in fees though, so if you can, you should opt for cards directly from a bank because they have fewer fees and a more secure guarantee. Or, you can avoid this quagmire altogether and opt for a gift card. If the person can't find anything at the store it's good at, they can use a gift card exchange to swap it for one they’ll love!
Physical vs. Digital
When exchanging gift cards, make sure you know what you’re getting. Some websites deal only in digital gift cards. This means you’ll receive a code via email, usually within a day or two. These codes can then be used for online shopping, though most retailers will let you use them in person at the cash register if you have all the required information like the full card number and activation code. Some websites will send you a physical gift card in the mail, but that means you’ll have to wait longer for it to arrive. Our research shows it usually takes about seven business days for cards to get to you, but that’s on top of the one or two days it will take for the company to process your order and get it in the mail. If you’re in a hurry, digital gift cards are the way to go. Another thing to keep in mind when deciding between digital and physical gift cards is how organized you are. If dozens of punch cards and gift cards tend to get lost and forgotten in your wallet, a digital card will be much more useful. On the other hand, if your computer’s emails and files aren’t well organized, you might want to opt for something physical you can keep your hands on until you need it.
How Much Do Gift Card Exchanges Cost?
If you’re selling an unwanted gift card, exchange websites take a cut. It depends on the website, card you’re selling and overall demand, but most take 15 percent or less. If you’re buying gift cards you can expect to see discounts of up to 35 percent, meaning you’d pay $65 or more for a $100 gift card. This too depends on the retailer and demand for that card.
Because users are buying and selling cards all the time it’s difficult to say exactly how “good” one website’s selection is compared to another. While our tests looked for three well-known gift card retailers across all websites, we acknowledge this is flawed because those cards could reappear or disappear from any site at any time. What we’d recommend is to shop around; if you can’t find the gift card you want on one website, you might be able to find it on another.
The Fine Print
While you’re shopping around, make sure the website you’re using is reputable. We made sure all of the websites we reviewed were secure, but we also found some sketchier options out there we wouldn’t recommend. Make sure wherever you’re shopping has responsive customer service representatives and never give out your credit card number on websites that aren’t secure. Secure websites have a small padlock symbol in the address bar, sometimes accompanied by the word “secure.” We’d also recommend making sure wherever you’re shopping has some kind of buyer’s guarantee so you’re protected when buying from secondary sellers.
Most Popular Gift Cards
According to a Gift Card Granny survey, Amazon was the most preferred gift card in 2017. When you're looking at gift card exchange websites check out Cardpool, which offers Amazon gift cards in exchange for cards from retailers you don't buy from. Walmart was the second most preferred gift card, followed by Target and then Starbucks. Keep this in mind if you're shopping but don't know what kind of gift card to get a friend or loved one. These retailers are very popular, so the odds are this card will get used. Amazon knocked Walmart out of the No. 1 spot in 2017, which signals the rising popularity of online shopping. Some other preferred gift card brands include Kohl's, Lowe's, Olive Garden, Home Depot, McDonald's and Best Buy.
Multi-Store Gift Cards
You've probably seen them at stores like Walmart or CVS. Usually displayed on large stands, you can oftentimes purchase gift cards from numerous retailers without having to visit the store itself. These cards usually work for restaurants or businesses that are owned by the same or partner companies. For example, a Darden Restaurants card works at Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Cheddar's and several other eateries. These cards are great if you're unsure what kind of card to get a person or simply don't know much about what they like to eat or buy. Along with more customer choice, these kinds of cards are good because you're protected in case one store or restaurant closes. They also don't have any fees.
Gift Card Security
Whether it’s around the holidays or not, scammers look for ways to steal information and money. You might feel safe and secure using your debit and credit cards at everyday retailers or big box stores, but some of the largest companies have experienced data breaches that left consumers vulnerable.
It might be easy to use your credit or debit card, but it’s not always safe. In December 2013, Target confirmed the credit and debit card information of roughly 40 million customers had been stolen. The number of customers affected later increased to 70 million. The New York Times reported the company ultimately paid a settlement of $18.5 million plus $202 million in legal fees, but millions still had their personal information stolen. If you shopped at Best Buy in September or October of 2017, you also may have had your information stolen. The same can be said for Sears and Delta Airlines according to USA Today.
Gift cards can help you avoid having your identity or information stolen. Simply purchase gift cards at retailers you frequent with cash and use them like debit cards. This eliminates the need to use a credit or debit card and potentially put your personal information in a vulnerable position. You can also use gift card exchange websites to acquire gift cards and use them to make everyday purchases at stores you frequent. There’s no reason to save a gift card to buy something special, and the added sense of security is a nice bonus.
Can I use a gift card anywhere?
- Gift cards have to be used at the merchant that is listed on the card. This is of course not the case with multi-store cards, which usually list every store you can use it at on the card. Visa preloaded cards are also an exception, as they can be used anywhere in place of a debit or credit card or cash.
Will a gift card exchange rip me off?
- The gift card exchanges we reviewed are all reputable with secure checkout, so your information stays safe. You won’t get 100 percent of the value of the gift card you’re selling, but that’s normal; it’s how gift card exchanges make money.
Will gift card exchanges take my really obscure gift card?
- Most gift card exchanges only accept cards from national chains or retailers. A card to your local mom and pop shop most likely won’t sell unless you live in a major city.
Is my gift card expired?
- You can find out by visiting the retailer’s website and looking up the balance on your gift card. If you’re still having trouble figuring out your balance you can call customer service or visit the store in person.
What happens if a gift card exchange gives me a card with an inaccurate balance?
- Contact customer service for that exchange, and tell them immediately. They’ll be able to right the wrong and get you back any money you lost.
Reusing Gift Cards
If you know your way around gift card exchanges and have used them many times before, you may have reached the point where you have a bunch of cards with $0 balances. Don’t despair! We here at Top Ten Reviews won’t leave you hanging.
There are a lot of things you can do with a gift card once you've used it. The Balance Everyday, part of Dotdash publishing, recommends putting more money on the card and giving it away as a gift. Cards with beautiful patterns or designs can even be cut into shapes and used as design or scrapbooking embellishments. You can also easily turn an old gift card into a stencil with a pair of scissors. In addition, cutting a jagged or curved edge makes an empty gift card a great pottery tool.
This Old House, a home builders website, has a lot of home improvement uses for old gift cards. For example, they're extremely handy to have in your pocket to use as a straight edge. You can also use a gift card to glue down loose tiles rather than getting a trowel dirty. In addition, the website says gift cards can be used to smooth out air bubbles in wallpaper or to caulk your tub, and you can use one as a miniature paint shield in tight spots.
Pinterest users have also compiled a long list of alternative uses for gift cards, including using them as the covers for mini journals, cutting them into shapes to make magnets or recycling them as guitar picks. If you have a sharp enough blade, you can even cut a gift card into a multipurpose tool to keep in your wallet.
If you're looking to swap gift cards in an unofficial way, one option is Reddit's gift card exchange program. Note, however, that this swap program is merely a community of Reddit users following a set of guidelines. The program is not officially run by a company. As such, there is no one to back up your purchases, and it's possible to get scammed. That said, there are 32,000 traders in the community who swap cards. Because the program is not monitored or controlled by a private company, there’s no one to charge fees to reduce the value of your card; you could get 100 percent of the value of your card if you find the right person to swap with. The GCX Safe Trading Guide outlines the precautions you should take before swapping cards, including verifying a user's account age and karma and making people send you links to their GCX Rep Profiles. Google Chrome users can also add the Reddit Scam Labeler extension to their browser for an added layer of security. Even if you take every precaution, however, it’s possible to get scammed, so we recommend using one of the gift card exchange websites we tested.