Tips for having a positive, safe experience with gift card exchanges

Gift cards are one of the most requested gifts in the U.S. Yet despite their popularity and versatility, you may sometimes find yourself with well-intentioned gift cards that go unused – like when you receive a gift card for a store where you don’t frequently shop. This has resulted in the creation of gift card exchange services online and in retailers across the country.

Gift card exchanges began popping up after consumers started selling or trading their unused gift cards on their own – often through unsafe channels like Craigslist. Gift card exchanges now allow consumers to sell their gift cards for a payout that is less than the gift card’s value, and purchase other previously owned gift cards at a discount.

We encourage you to educate yourself on gift card exchanges before selecting one, as the services are still new and not all offer equal experiences to shoppers.

Here are some tips to consider when using a gift card exchange:

  1. When selling a gift card, expect to make less than the value of the card: A shopper selling a $100 gift card to a gift card exchange will not receive a $100 payout. The exact amount of payout will depend on the exchange used and the demand for the particular card being sold.
  2. Select gift card exchanges that verify the balance of gift cards before selling to shoppers: This will help protect you from buying cards that might carry less value than advertised, or that could even be empty. (An important consideration since gift cards sold via gift card exchanges are previously owned goods.)
  3. Use gift card exchanges that offer post-purchase guarantees: Reputable exchanges will offer you a guarantee that the cards you purchase are legitimate and verified.
  4. Pay attention to how and when payout will happen: Some gift card exchanges found in retail locations will only offer payment via store gift cards. Online exchanges may offer payment via a mailed check, direct deposit, or PayPal. Also, some exchanges may take lengthy amounts of time to pay sellers, and/or may not have practices in place that protect sellers in the event their payout is lost in the mail. Reputable exchanges will offer tracking of a payment shipment.
  5. Make sure the cards purchased or sold online do not have additional fees associated or expiration dates that have already passed. It is not uncommon for some third party resellers to neglect to tell buyers that the cards they purchased are about to expire.
  6. Don’t buy and sell gift cards to/from unknown individuals: Make sure to use genuine gift card exchange companies versus private sellers on Craigslist or other sites. These individuals do not offer any guarantees to protect you and could end up being criminals.