If it doesn’t surprise you that consumers spend more than $130 billion on gift cards each year, then maybe this will–$1 billion of those cards go unused. There is a multitude of gift cards on the market from big retailers like Walmart down to local businesses. So what can you do if you receive cards you know you will never use, or you would rather have the cash?

The good news is there are plenty of options for immediately turning unwanted gift cards into cold, hard cash. While there are dozens of websites where you can broker a deal to sell gift cards, even those with only a partial balance remaining, you’ll have to wait on a check or a transfer through something like PayPal. However, if you don’t want to wait, here are five options to get cash back from those cards on the same day.

  1. CardPool provides yellow kiosks that will read your card, make you an offer, and provide a voucher, or in some cases a VISA gift card, in exchange. The kiosks were once owned and operated by Coinstar, those green machines that will count your loose change and provide cash in return. They were bought out by CardPool. In addition to the kiosks, there are also what CardPool calls “cashier-assisted” options. Just be aware that if you go to one of the cashier-assisted spots, sometimes your only option is to exchange your gift card for that retailer’s card (as is the case with Target). You can find locations in some Target stores, grocery stores such as Kroger, Food Lion, and Stop & Shop, as well as other businesses such as some Check Into Cash locations. Use CardPool’s locator to find what’s near you.
  2. You can also directly sell gift cards with Check Into Cash. The cards you bring in can be new or used, but they must have a minimum remaining value of at least $20. You’ll need to have a photo ID with you. Like all of these deals, Check Into Cash offers less than the value remaining on the card. They accept cards from major retailers including Home Depot, Starbucks, Target, and Walmart, among others.
  3. Check cashing, and title loan businesses such as Title Loan Express also offer to buy gift cards and give you cash in return. Rates will vary on what they’ll pay. Some companies offer as little as 50 cents on the dollar while others may pay as much as 92% of a card’s value. What also comes into play is how valuable those cards will be to resell. In general grocery cards, gas cards and cards from Walmart and Target tend to have a better resale value.
  4. Gift Card Bin is another alternative if you’re looking to cash out those unwanted cards. Similar to the other options, you’ll need to bring a valid form of ID with you. Gift Card Bin will cash out a maximum of $300 worth of cards to any seller during a 30 day period.
  5. If you don’t need the cash for a specific purpose, you simply have a card to a restaurant or business you don’t patronize, then you might consider an exchange rather than money back. Both Walmart and Target offer trade-in options in which you receive a gift card to their specific store in exchange for a card you might not use. So, for example, if diapers and formula mean more to you than one dinner at a restaurant, an exchange like this could be to your advantage. Like all of these services, you’ll receive less than the actual value of the card. Exchange rates may vary depending on the popularity of the card you’re exchanging.

Before you go, check with companies to be sure they will accept the card you have and, if you’ve already used a portion of it, if they accept cards with partial remaining balances. One of the advantages of going to a business or a kiosk is the turnaround time. In almost all cases, you get that cash the same day. Selling your cards online can take days, sometimes weeks, before you have the money in hand. However, in exchange for the convenience of getting quick cash, you will likely receive less money on the dollar for those unwanted gift cards. The bottom line for anyone, though, is that you can say thank you for the gift with a smile, knowing you have an option to cash it in.

 

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