Turning Gift Cards Into Cash

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Howard Schwartz of the Connecticut Better Business Bureau provides some tips on how to cash in on unused or unwanted gift cards.

Below is a press release on the topic from the Connecticut Better Business Bureau. For more information, visit www.ct.bbb.org.

“If you have any holiday gift cards gathering dust, you are not alone.  If that’s the case, Connecticut BBB recommends finding and trading them or turning them into cash.

The National Retail Federation says gift cards accounted for $30 billion in holiday spending.  Historically, more than $1 billion of those will go unredeemed.

Since August, 2003, Connecticut law has prohibited retailers from imposing an expiration date or charging inactivity fees.  However, cards issued or backed by banks or sold by malls fall under federal statutes, and in such cases, cardholders may be charged fees after a period specified by law.

Though gift cards are convenient, retail cards and gift certificates are not flexible, which is why some consumers trade or convert them into cash.  Another consideration is that you won’t be able to redeem a gift card from any company – particularly a small local business – that closes its doors.

There are a number of websites where you can sell gift cards.  Expect to lose anywhere from ten to 50 percent of their value.  In other cases, you might want to sell or exchange a gift card with friends or colleagues or on an online auction site.

Before selling or exchanging a gift card online, BBB recommends:

Know which are the most valuable cards – Cards with the highest trade-in value are from gas stations, retail chains and grocery stores.

Shop around – Like any other commodity, you will find some people are willing to give you more money for your gift cards than others.

Look for a reputable site – There are a number of well-known sites, however, always check out other consumers’ experiences at www.bbb.org before engaging in a transaction.

Understand how the sites work – While some gift card sites allow you to enter the card’s number online, others may offer a better deal if you mail the card to them.

Be careful on classified ad sites – These sites do not offer sellers or buyers the same protection as reputable web sites.

Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB helps consumers find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust, offers objective advice and a wide range of education on topics affecting marketplace trust. BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses. Today, 113 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than three million local and national businesses and charities. For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org.”

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