Do you want to sell gift cards that you aren’t using? Or are you hoping to buy a gift card at a discount?
There are a few gift card marketplaces where you can buy and sell online. I’ll break down a few of the best options in this article. I’ll also discuss how to avoid fraud and reveal why money expert Clark Howard prefers cash to gift cards.
Table of Contents
- How Do I Sell My Unused Gift Cards?
- How Much Money Can I Make Selling My Gift Cards?
- Buy & Sell Gift Cards: Reviewing the Options
- Why Clark Howard Prefers Cash to Gift Cards
How Do I Sell My Unused Gift Cards?
If there’s a gift card taking up space in your wallet or cluttering your bedside table, you can always sell it for cash.
It’s possible to sell gift cards just about anywhere you can sell things online. Just make sure you get compensation before you give away your card number and PIN. Otherwise, the “buyer” could wipe out your card balance before you see a penny.
There are websites that people visit specifically to buy and sell unused gift cards. I’ll go over a few of the primary options in this article.
How Much Money Can I Make Selling My Gift Cards?
One of my favorite gift card marketplace options, CardCash, claims to buy gift cards for up to 92% of your card balance. So it’s possible to get nice cash offers if you want to sell gift cards.
Most sites that disclose their maximum payouts as percentages don’t even approach 90%. So the amount of money you’ll get will probably be considerably less than your card balance. The exact amount depends on which website you use, how popular the brand is that you’re trying to sell and how much of that brand’s inventory the site already has listed.
Some gift card sites are more complicated than others. But most, if not all, sites that allow you to sell gift cards will make you an offer for your card or tell you the current lowest listing price for that brand within seconds. So you can compare price points rather easily.
Some websites will buy your gift card outright (and then re-sell it themselves). Others will only allow you to list your gift card for sale to other customers.
Buy & Sell Gift Cards: Reviewing the Options
There aren’t many gift card-dedicated websites where you can actually sell gift cards online.
It seems like a tough business model. Several of the major brands that operate in the space went out of business recently, citing COVID-related issues.
Looking at previous Clark.com reviews of these gift card sites, there’s a clear pattern of high turnover with companies going out of business and new companies forming.
As of October 2021, here are some of the main, legitimate options I found for buying or selling gift cards online.
Out of the gift card marketplaces I researched, CardCash is the one I’d feel most comfortable using myself.
It offers a 45-day guarantee on all gift card purchases you make on the site. CardCash also makes it super easy to get an offer on a card you want to sell. Type in the brand and the card balance, and the site will spit back a cash offer almost instantly.
The company has existed since 2009 which is highly unusual in this business. I found the site to be the most user-friendly. And the volume of available inventory was pretty high.
I wrote a full review on Raise as well.
I commend the one-year guarantee that Raise offers to anyone who buys a gift card from its site. However, it is a peer-to-peer marketplace. And that means selling is more of a nuisance. Instead of getting a near-instant cash offer, Raise shows you the other listings for your card’s brand and lets you set your own price. You also have to enter your card number, PIN and other information straight away if you’re going to sell.
Raise has raised (pun intended) nearly $150 million and operates like a well-capitalized Chicago finance company. I didn’t find its user experience or its prices to be as competitive as CardCash. But it gives the appearance of an organized, well-structured corporation, a welcome change in the space.
3. Gift Card Granny
A longtime staple in the gift card space, this company appears to have pivoted hard toward selling custom MasterCard and Visa cards. Unfortunately, if you want to sell gift cards online, you’re now out of luck with Gift Card Granny. But you can buy “cash back” gift cards through its website.
In the gift card industry, “cash back” cards tend to require you to pay full price but give you a small amount of store credit that you can redeem later for other gift cards.
This company has a great URL for its website (GiftCards.com). But it seems to operate with a business model that’s similar to Gift Card Granny. The biggest font on the homepage implores you to “send some instant cheer” by buying someone an electronic gift card.
You can’t sell your gift cards through the site. But you can customize the gift cards you buy. And you may get “rewards points” for every card you buy. GiftCards also allows you to create custom Visa cards.
ClipKard appears to accept gift cards for sale only from 15 well-known brands. However, it offers many more brands for sale in its marketplace as well as a 60-day balance guarantee.
Search tools indicate that ClipKard gets a low volume of traffic. But customers have given it a 4.8 review score out of 5 with the Better Business Bureau.
There aren’t many credible reviews of ClipKard from well-known personal finance sites. But it seems worth using its quick, easy price quote tool to compare offers if you’re selling gift cards.
Several well-known gift card marketplace companies have folded since the onset of COVID-19. At least one of those brands encouraged its former customers to try GiftCash.com.
Like CardCash, the site will give you an offer in seconds for the gift card you’re trying to sell. The user experience is streamlined and simple to use. The company website says it started in 2017 and has helped 300,000 customers. You have to sign up and log in to buy gift cards from the site.
It’s newer than CardCash or Raise, but it may be worth using the site to compare offers.
This subreddit’s community description says, “Trade your gift cards with other redditors and get what you really want.” There aren’t any card balance guarantees on Reddit. But there’s a reputation system and detailed guidelines to follow. If you’re a Reddit user and you feel comfortable navigating the community, it may be worth trying.
8. Physical Locations
If you type “sell gift cards” into Google Maps or the equivalent navigation app, you’ll probably get some results. I found a company with a 4.9 customer review rating within seven miles of my home called “Precious Gold Buyers & Gift Cards.” These kinds of businesses are essentially pawn shops for gift cards.
The website claimed to offer “up to 75%” of the card balance in cash if you want to sell.
That’s not necessarily a great deal. But if I wanted to sell gift cards in a hurry, finding a local vendor might be an option worth exploring.
Where To Avoid Buying Gift Cards
The list of places to avoid when you’re buying second-hand gift cards is long. It includes Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace — anywhere outside of well-vetted sites.
Fraud is rampant in the online gift card market. Most gift cards bought and sold online are electronic. So it’s possible for someone to commit fraud by listing a card, retaining the card number and PIN and wiping the card balance clean after receiving compensation.
It’s also possible for a scammer to buy a gift card with a stolen credit card and then sell the gift card. But the gift card sale could get voided before the unsuspecting buyer uses it.
There are other types of fraud as well.
Some of the gift card sites try to mitigate fraud. It doesn’t seem possible to prevent it completely. But some sites guarantee any card balance you purchase for a certain time period. I’ve seen guarantees between 45 and 365 days.
In fact, money expert Clark Howard says he recommends only those gift card sites that guarantee all balances.
“If the gift card exchange site guarantees that the card [you buy] is good or your money back, then go for it,” Clark says. “But if there is no guarantee for the buyer, you’re taking too much risk to use it.
“[Selling] gift cards where you get more in value than what you pay in dollars, it’s an opportunity but with definite hazard attached to it.”
Fraud aside, trying to buy or sell gift cards on these common vendor sites usually doesn’t get you a great return. If you shop on eBay, you’ll have to list your card for less than the balance in order for it to sell. When it does sell, you’ll owe eBay fees. And if you’re buying on eBay, you won’t have any protection or guarantees against scammers.
Buying gift cards in person isn’t completely safe either. Make sure you check the back of the gift card to see whether the area that reveals the code has been scratched off. If so, someone may have already wiped out the card’s balance.
Why Clark Howard Prefers Cash to Gift Cards
If you’re thinking about getting someone a present for a holiday, birthday or any other reason, Clark says you should consider giving cash instead of a gift card.
Many gift cards include restrictions. They may limit your shopping to a single brand. Sometimes you’re limited to in-store purchases only, among other conditions. And some places will let you use only one of its gift cards per transaction.
The last few years have been volatile for restaurants, retail stores and other industries. If a company goes out of business, the gift card could be worthless, even if it has a balance.
Most of us have gotten a gift card we don’t want at one time or another. It’s totally acceptable to sell it and recoup some cash, especially if you’re not going to use it.
If you sell gift cards online, take five minutes and compare the money you’ll get from a few of the gift card marketplaces I’ve reviewed to make sure you’re getting maximum value.
If you want to buy gift cards on the secondary market, understand that scams and fraud are common. Try to buy only from companies that guarantee your balance for a certain amount of time. If you’re just looking to save money shopping, consider browser extensions such as Honey and Ibotta, as they may offer less hassle.