Gift cards going to waste? Sites let you sell them for cash, pay bills

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By Cameron Huddleston
Saturday, January 1, 2011; 5:38 PM

Perhaps this was the scene: You were at your family's annual holiday gathering and everyone was exchanging gifts. You opened the envelope from Aunt Bea and, oh yay, it's a gift card . . . to a store where you NEVER shop. You forced a smile, said thank you and thought to yourself that this gift card will end up at the back of a drawer with all those other gift cards you never used.

If you received an unwanted gift card, there's an easy way to sell it at sites such as PlasticJungle.com, Cardpool.com, GiftCards.com and GiftCardGranny.com. You won't get the full value of your card (up to 92 percent at best). But if someone gave the gift card to you, it's like getting free money.

You don't have to pay for shipping if you sell your unwanted cards to Plastic Jungle or Cardpool.com, which will send you a prepaid postage label. GiftCards.com requires you to pay for postage when you mail in the unwanted card. But it has partner locations in most states where you can trade in the card for cash.

Plastic Jungle and Cardpool.com give you the option of receiving an Amazon.com gift card (rather than cash) in exchange for your card. The Amazon.com card's value will be lower than your card's but probably higher than than the cash amount you'd receive. For example, say you had a Gap gift card. At Plastic Jungle, you could get a cashier's check for $20.50 or an Amazon.com gift card valued at $21.53. (The amounts are slightly less at Cardpool.com.)

Cardpool.com lets you trade in unwanted gift cards for Facebook credits to buy virtual goods in the games and applications on the social-networking site.

And Plastic Jungle gives you the option of donating unwanted gift cards to your favorite charity. Click on "sell gift cards" and you'll be given the option before you complete your transaction to donate part or all of the proceeds from the sale of your card to a charity. You'll receive a receipt for your tax-deductible contribution.

GiftCards.com allows you to use your unwanted gift card to pay bills. You enter the name of the company that issued the card and the amount, and GiftCards.com will show you the amount it will apply toward a bill of your choosing. Then you have to mail a copy of your bill and the gift card to GiftCards.com.

- Kiplinger's Personal Finance


© 2011 The Washington Post Company

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