Raise Review: Buy & Sell Gift Cards

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Do you want cash for gift cards you’re not going to use? Or do you want a discount on a purchase you’re about to make?

Raise, an online marketplace for buying and selling gift cards, could be worth testing.

In this article, I’ll explain how to buy and sell gift cards with Raise and how Raise counteracts fraud.


Table of Contents


What Is Raise?

Founded in 2013 in Chicago, Raise is an online marketplace for buying and selling gift cards. It’s a spinoff of a company called CouponTrade, which George Bousis and Bradley Wasz started in 2010.

Raise is just part of a bigger corporation. Investors have poured nearly $150 million into the company, which has made two significant acquisitions. In 2020, it also launched a mobile payments app (Slide) and a fraud detection system (rZero) that it sells to fintech companies.

In addition to the gift card marketplace on Raise.com, the company also offers a mobile app, coupons and cash back.

The thing about Raise, compared to the other gift card sites I’ve researched, is that it will cost you more to sell gift cards here than it will via Raise’s competitors.


Selling Gift Cards to Raise: How Does It Work?

Most gift card marketplaces allow you to enter the brand and your account balance, and then you get a near-instant offer to purchase your card. Raise isn’t as consumer-friendly.

You’ll begin by typing in the name of the brand and clicking “Get Started.” When I tested the site, several inputs resulted in some variation of this message: “At this time, we are only accepting Amazon.com gift cards from select sellers. If you would like to sell a gift card from a different retailer on our marketplace, visit our Sell Gift Cards page.”

Raise also doesn’t allow you to list gift cards with an expiration date or gift cards that incur fees.

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If you’re able to list your card on the market, you’ll need to type in the gift card’s serial number, PIN and current balance. Then you’ll determine your selling price.

You’re not actually selling the card to Raise. Instead, you’re selling directly to buyers. Raise can suggest a price. But it’s up to you to view the current listings and decide to undercut them, match them or list your card at a higher price.

Keep in mind Raise will take 15% of every sale. So if you list a $50 gift card for $46 (an 8% discount), you’ll get paid $39.10 if it sells. If you’re selling a physical gift card, Raise charges an additional fee of 1% or $1, whichever is higher.

Raise may require you to send screenshots of the card number and PIN to verify.

The company pays by check, PayPal or direct deposit. However, Raise charges a whopping $30 fee to send physical checks.


Buying Gift Cards From Raise: How Does It Work?

Raise claims to offer discounts up to 30% on gift cards from more than 4,000 brands.

When I checked the site, however, gift cards from 1,119 brands were available for purchase. Only three sellers offered discounts of more than 30%.

The company says 98% of its cards are electronic. All physical cards must be redeemed in-store. Electronic gift cards arrive via email within 24 hours, while physical cards can take up to 14 days to arrive in the mail.

You can search the Raise marketplace and sort brands by alphabetical order, discount percentage, popularity, cash back percentage, card type (physical or electronic) and categories (example: Food and Beverage).

When you click on a brand, you’ll see the card balance, price and discount percentage. You can also set alerts to track pricing and availability for specific brands.

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Biggest Gift Card Discounts

I sorted the gift cards in the marketplace by discount percentage. Here were the five largest discounts I found:

  • TangySweet: up to 38.9% off
  • Glamour Shots: up to 33.4% off
  • Main Event: up to 31.4% off
  • Cooper Spa: up to 29.9% off
  • The Hub Work & Leisure: up to 27.0% off

Most Popular Gift Cards on Raise

Here are the five most popular brands in the marketplace as of October 2021:

  • Target
  • Sears
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Lowe’s
  • Home Depot

Dealing With Fraud: Raise Offers One-Year Guarantee

Fraud is a major problem in the secondary gift card marketplace. There are a variety of schemes. For example, someone will buy a gift card with a stolen credit card and then try to sell the gift card. Or someone will sell a gift card and then spend the card balance before the purchaser can.

Raise offers one-year and 90-day guarantees to those who buy from the company’s gift card marketplace. The 90-day guarantee is for physical cards that you don’t receive within 30 days of your purchase.

The one-year guarantee protects against:

  • Buying an inactive gift card
  • Receiving a card from the wrong brand
  • Receiving a card with an incorrect balance

Despite the guarantee, customers give Raise a review score of 1.35 out of 5, according to the Better Business Bureau. Nearly 100 customers submitted complaints within the last 12 months, with the BBB assigning the company a B- rating.

Based on those accounts, it seems like using the one-year guarantee to secure a refund for a legitimate issue can be a long, frustrating process. That process may include communicating with customer service representatives through chat, email or on the phone. It can also require sending multiple files and screenshots for verification purposes.


What Is Raise Cash?

According to the company, Raise Cash is “a currency that can be redeemed on any Raise purchase. $1 of Raise Cash equals $1 of spending power on our website and mobile app.”

You can earn Raise Cash through at least three avenues:

  • Refer a new customer to Raise ($5 Raise Cash)
  • Send “cash back” gift cards to others (up to 10% in Raise Cash)
  • Buy “cash back” gift cards for yourself

According to Raise, a cash back gift card is a full-priced gift card for which you can “get up to 15% back in Raise Cash to spend on future [site] purchases.”

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Raise Pros

Here are some of the best aspects of buying and selling gift cards through Raise:

  • One-year guarantee. If you purchase a gift card in the marketplace but don’t receive what you paid for, you can apply for a refund thanks to the one-year guarantee.
  • Significant discounts sometimes available. The Raise gift card marketplace routinely offers discount percentages into the double digits.
  • High volume of brands. The company claims to support more than 4,000 brands in its marketplace. I found well more than 1,000 brands available for purchase.

Raise Cons

Here are some of the downsides of buying and selling gift cards through Raise:

  • May encounter fraud. From the one-year guarantee to the frequency of BBB complaints, it seems clear that fraud is an everyday issue in the world of second-hand gift cards. There’s a decent chance you’ll encounter fraud, which will leave you with a lose-lose choice: give up the money you lost or contend with a potentially long process to get a refund.
  • More complex for sellers than competitors. Competitors require less information to provide you with a quote. They also give you a flat offer for your gift card, whereas this company requires you to name your own listing price. And at any given time, the site appears to accept only a few brands of cards for sale.
  • Expensive fees for sellers. The marketplace dictates that sellers list their gift cards for less than the balance. If you sell a card, Raise will take a 15% cut of the final price.
  • Potentially prohibitive costs for checks. The company seems to be funneling payouts toward direct deposit or PayPal, as it charges $30 per physical check mailed.

Alternatives to Raise

Money expert Clark Howard isn’t a fan of gift cards. If you’re buying for someone else, he prefers that you give cash instead. So that’s one alternative.

You can typically get a near-instant offer on any gift card you want to sell. Some of Raise’s top competitors include:


Final Thoughts

Raise doesn’t seem like the best place to sell gift cards if you’re trying to maximize your earnings and minimize effort. The company requires more time to figure out your listing price.

It’ll also take 15% of every sale on your already-discounted price. Raise seems like an OK place to buy used gift cards. It offered cards from nearly twice as many brands as CardCash when I checked the sites in October 2021.


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