Doing a gift card exchange for cash is what these dedicated websites are all about, so you can turn an unwanted gift into money to spend on something else. Though the drawback of using these sites is the fee usually charged to do the exchange, as well as the fact you won’t get the full value of the gift card in cash, it’s better than the gift card gathering dust! Most sites offer between 80-85% of the value of the gift card, so if you know you’re not going to make use of the card at all, then it’s still a good return for you.
You don’t need to be in physical possession of the gift card in order to exchange it for cash, with sites also buying credit and digital codes as part of their service due to the increase in e-gift carding. Be wary of websites that are known as less reputable, as some will try and insert hidden fees into the exchange, or withhold payment, and waste your time and money. To give the full picture, we’ve included tried and trusted sites within this guide alongside those which we found to be more unreliable, so you know which ones to opt for. Even when using the best sites there can often be delays in the gift card exchange for cash, so don’t panic if your money takes a few days to come through to you.
It’s worth noting that some of these exchange sites will also sell ‘second hand’ cards themselves at a lower rate, which might seem like a great deal. On more unsavory websites, however, these codes may not be valid or have already been used, so it’s best to thoroughly check, first in this guide and then through user reviews for those specific sites, on what is being said about their service. For more help deciding where to shop, check out our guides to the best auction sites and the best online shoe stores.
1. Raise: Best gift card exchange overall
Raise has a well-designed gift card exchange website. The layout is clean and modern and it's clear where to go to buy, sell and earn rewards. The free mobile app has the same feel and is equally easy to use. One thing we really liked about this exchange website is the shopper guarantee. For an entire year from the day you purchase a gift card, Raise will refund your purchase price if the cards if you've been waiting for a physical card to arrive, it has an incorrect balance or is just simply not the card you ordered.
Raise offered us good money for our gift cards, and had deals on top retailers with an additional option of cashback where gift cards weren’t available. You're promised around 85-90% of the value when exchanging gift cards for cash, which is low among exchange sites. However, we found during tests that the final amount we received was comparable to other sites, which can levy hidden fees.
You can get paid via PayPal, direct deposit, and a check in the mail (although this last option carries a hefty fee, so we cannot recommend it). Coupled with an impressive A rating from the Better Business Bureau, this is the gift card exchange company we’d recommend.
- Read our Raise review
2. Gift Card Spread: Best for buying cards
Gift Card Spread has a large variety of gift cards on offer for impressive discounts of up to 31% - some of the best we’ve seen. This website is easy to use. Retailers are listed alphabetically but you can also search by price, card type, or a multitude of categories. Like other exchange websites, each retailer has a saving of ‘up to’ a certain amount. You can then click to see what your options are.
However, there isn’t an app on offer which penalises Gift Card Spread when compared to competitors such as CardCash, and the process of selling your card is far too complicated to be worth the hassle. If you're looking to buy cards this is the place to do it, but anyone seeking to exchange or sell should definitely consider other options.
- Read our Gift Card Spread review
3. CardCash: Best for sellers
While it offers ‘up to’ significantly large discounts on vouchers for big retailers, the reality of CardCash is often disappointing with often less than a percentage off full retail price - which really isn’t worth the bother. If you are able to find a good deal, though, then there is a welcome 45-day guarantee on all purchases.
However, if you’re looking to sell your gift card you might be in for more luck. The rates offered by CardCash were higher than most competitors, making them a good option if you want to sell your gift card for as much as possible. The option of PayPal and direct debit payments also mean you can have this money in a matter of days, which is faster than most other gift card exchange companies.
- Read our Card Cash review
4. Gift Card Granny: Best selection of cards
With a free app to use on the go and lots of gift card options from dozens of exchange websites and even more retailers, Gift Card Granny has a good selection available, even if this comes in a different form to many of its competitors. If the cashback option appeals to you, this is a good option with the ability to customise eGifts for sending to loved ones.
A big downside with Gift Card Granny is that, whilst it posts lots of useful, informative content and has many gift cards listed available to buy, it doesn’t offer you the chance to sell your gift card. If that’s what you’re after, this isn’t the site for you. However, Giftcard granny had offers for over 1300 brands, making it one of the most comprehensive sites we looked at.
- Read our Gift Card Granny review
5. Card Kangaroo: A great inventory of cards
Card Kangaroo has an inventory of about 1,300 cards as of last November 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.
6. GiftCardBin: Good for customer satisfaction
If the other companies we tested aren't giving you the results you want, you might want to consider GiftCardBin. You can search by discount, store, category or your own favorites once you create an account. You can buy electronic or physical gift cards and if you choose the latter you can expect it in the mail within ten business days. Digital cards will appear in your account within two business days - longer than some promise.
You can also get vouchers printable at home and redeemable in-store for certain retailers. We saw discounts as high as 31% during our testing, which meant you could buy a $140 Lane Bryant card for less than $100. That said, you’d need to be confident in making a large purchase for this deal to pay off.
We saw some impressive savings with GiftCardBin, so it’s worth signing up for alerts in case any of your favorite retailers crop up with a great deal. Whilst not accredited, an A+ BBB rating indicates a high level of customer satisfaction - one of the major perks of GiftCardBin in comparison with leading sites.
- Read our GiftCardBin review
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. 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% but digital cards are doing the same at a rate of 200%, according to CardCash.
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 and 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.
Why did we not list Cardpool?
The reason we can't recommend Cardpool is that it has an F rating with the BBB, the lowest rating they give. Definitely worth taking into account! We read many reviews that suggested Cardpool did not send out cards or pay the proper amount when purchasing from sellers. As such, we cannot recommend this site, but you are obviously free to consider it.
One of Cardpool’s main advantages is its one year guarantee. Unlike competitors such as CardCash, who only guarantee for 45 days. Cardpool also gives you the option of being paid in Amazon gift cards: a unique offer among the companies we reviewed. We particularly liked the Cardpool app, which gives you access to a digital wallet and allows you to buy gift cards on the go; maybe even while waiting in line at checkout. You can pay in-store directly from your phone and get your shop for less.
One disadvantage is the app is only available on the Apple App Store. Popular stores see lower discounts. However, it’s still a good way to save a few bucks if you’re making a bigger purchase and it’d add up over time. We saw much bigger discounts on other retailers such as American Eagle, which offered a 17% discount.
What about Cardpool kiosks?
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.
How we found the best gift card exchange websites
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 gift cards from leading retailers 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 from top brands. 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 – American Eagle, Macy’s 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% or less. If you’re buying gift cards you can expect to see discounts of up to 35%, meaning you’d pay $65 or more for a $100 gift card. This too depends on the retailer and demand for that card. We found these discounts to usually be a bit more modest.
Gift card selection
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.
Read 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 Wallet Hub, Amazon was the most preferred gift card last year. 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. Visa was the second most preferred gift card, followed by Walmart and then Target. 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, Disney, Sephora, Home Depot, McDonald's and Starbucks.
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 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.
Gift card exchange and Reddit
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.