By Elaine Zimmermann
Christopher: I received several gift cards for Christmas and I could really use the cash. Where is the best place to sell them?
Elaine: You will be surprised to learn that more than 50% of American adults will receive a gift card this year. Many of these cards sit in wallets and dresser drawers. Many are eventually lost and never redeemed. If you don't think you wish to purchase merchandise with a gift card, it is best to sell or swap it before it is lost or expires, as is the case with some cards.
There more than a billion dollars in gift cards sold annually. It is estimated that up to 40% go unused.
It did not take long for the Internet to pay attention to these numbers. Many new Internet companies were formed around this business opportunity while other traditional Internet sellers, like eBay, added new channels to accommodate this new category.
eBay has a separate category for the selling of gift cards -- "Gift Certificates." A quick glance of the items shows people are selling the traditional gift cards but also gift coupons.
The traditional store gift cards from Macy's, Victoria's Secret and many others appear to be selling for slightly below their face value -- a $50 card sold for $47.00. eBay also charges the seller a percentage of the sales price, so you must keep that in mind if you choose to go this route.
There are many Internet sites devoted to the exchange and purchase of gift cards: SwapaGift, PlasticJungle CardAvenue and MonsterGiftCard and many others.
You can sell your gift card for up to 92% of its face value. In most cases you must mail the card in to the site and wait a few weeks before you receive your money. There are restrictions on the types of cards they will accept and the face amounts they will purchase.
Many of these sites offer the option to "swap" your gift card for another. If you have a Wal-Mart gift card from Father's Day and see a grill at Target you would like to purchase, many card "swappers" will give you an even swap. Your $100 Wal-Mart gift card may get you a $100 Target gift card.
If you are in the market to buy a gift card for a wedding, graduation or birthday, these sites offer many cards at discounted prices directly from the retailer. These include stores, restaurants and even cruise lines. You may be able to get a $100 gift card for $90.
Need your money right away? SwapaGift has locations in California, Texas and the north east where you can get your money in a matter of minutes.
If you are looking to buy a gift card at a discounted rate, these sites offer many cards at discounted prices directly from the retailer. These include stores, restaurants and even cruise lines. An American Airlines $50 gift card may be purchased for $44 dollars.
Elaine Zimmermann is a personal finance expert who was written about everyday ways to save money on cars, homes, vacations and more. For information on investing in foreclosed real estate you can visit her website at www.AskElaineZ.com.