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, but what 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 card is inactive, has an incorrect balance or is just simply not the card you ordered. They'll also make refunds if you've been waiting for a physical card to arrive in the mail for 30 days. Of course, if you've spent a portion of the gift card before something goes wrong you'll only be refunded the remaining amount on the card. Still, this is a rock-solid guarantee to offer shoppers.
In our tests we looked for gift cards from Walmart, Target and Amazon on every website on the same day, within about a half hour. The availability of gift cards fluctuates all the time but Raise earned a mid-range score of C+ in our tests because we found cards from Walmart and Target, though the Amazon cards were out of stock. Overall selection is vast though, with cards from Airbnb, Petco, Cabela’s and Nike all available from just a cursory glance at the home page.
Once you pick a retailer you can see what format the gift card is in, its value, purchase price and the percentage at which you're getting a discount. This up-front listing style makes it easy to get the best deal on any gift card. We saw discounts as steep as 18.6 percent, but that varies day to day as well as by retailer. If you buy a physical card it can take 3-14 days to get to you in the mail. This shipping time is a little long compared to some of the other websites we tested that guarantee your card within a week.
Selling cards on Raise isn’t quite as good a bargain as it could be. While other websites like Cardpool and CardCash will give you up to 92 percent of the full value of your unwanted card, Raise takes a definitive 15 percent commission off your selling price. This means you can only get 85 percent of your card's value, and that's if you sell it at its full value, which is highly unlikely. If you're selling a physical card, Raise also takes either 1 percent of the value of the card or $1.00, whichever is greater. You'll be told whether you need to ship your physical gift card or if it can be converted to an electronic card, but if you need to mail it you'll need to do so within 72 hours of it selling. If you do sell your card you can get paid via direct deposit, PayPal or a check in the mail. Don't pick the latter option because there is a $30 fee for doing so and it can take up to 15 days, one of the slowest payout times of the websites we tested. There's no way it's worth it.
You can feel confident shopping with Raise because it has a respectable B+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, a consumer watchdog group. There is also a rewards program to take advantage of called Raise Pay. It allows you to earn cash back on cards from participating retailers, which you can then spend on other gift cards. It’s a little bit like earning free in-store credit in that $1 of Raise Cash is the same as having $1 to spend on the website. You can also earn Raise Cash when you refer friends and as of October 2018 the website said there would be other ways to earn in the near future.
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