How to Turn Gift Cards into Cash

Did you ever receive a gift card to a store where you never shop? With the holiday’s behind us, you may be sitting on a lot of gift cards you may never use. One option is to re-gift them. But another option is to sell the gift cards online for cash.

Buy and Sell Gift Cards

There is an active secondary market for gift cards. And one place to buy, sell or trade gift cards is called Plastic Jungle. Registration, which is free, is required to buy, sell or trade gift cards. You can save money and lots of it by buying gift cards, but let’s first look at generating cash from selling cards.

Selling Gift Cards with Plastic Jungle

There are two options for selling a gift card on Plastic Jungle. First, you can sell the card directly to PJ for what they call “Quick Cash.” Plastic Jungle has a nifty tool that will tell you how much they will pay for your card. A $50 AMC Theatre gift card, for example, will net you $32.50. A $50 Best Buy card gets you $35. From what I can tell, the highest paying gift cards sold through PJ’s Quick Cash payout at 70% of the face value of the card.

Second, you can put your card up for sale to third parties on PJ’s site. You set your own price, and can accept cash or trade. You can also enable a feature to allow bidders to make a counter offer.

discounted gift cards

Buy Discounted Gift Cards

If you can sell gift cards on Plastic Jungle, you can also buy gift cards, and at a great discount. I noticed, for example, that Home Depot gift cards are selling at an 8% discount off the card’s face value. So why would one ever shop at Home Depot without one of these discounted cards? I guess to avoid the hassle of buying the card online. But if you plan ahead, you can save a lot of money by buying these cards and using them at the retailers you shop at regularly. Now that’s smart money management at its best.

Trade Gift Cards

If you have a gift card for a store where you don’t shop, another option is to trade the card. A trade can avoid the loss of 30% or more when you sell the card, and you can nab a gift card for a store where you enjoy shopping. Plastic Jungle has a section for trading gift cards. When card owners list their cards for sale, they can also list gift cards they would consider for a trade.

All in all Plastic Jungle looks like a great online tool to manage your money. I expect to start buying discounted cards for those retailers where we shop every month. If you’ve used Plastic Jungle, please let us know what you think.

Published or Updated: June 9, 2013
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. Christine says:

    You can get more for your gift cards by selling it on ebay. But then of course, it looks like you maybe be able to buy it for a greater discount at Plastic Jungle.

    • DR says:

      Christine, thanks for the tip.

  2. This is pretty neat. I had no idea this type of service existed. I think my son will benefit from this as he never uses all the gift cards he gets for holidays/birthdays.

  3. Andys says:

    There goes by business idea! :) Actually, I always wondered if this type of thing (outside of ebay) existed. This post saved me doing the research. I’ll check it out and with the holidays coming up in a few months (how the year has flown), I want to get in early and save a few % when I shop.

  4. Richard @ Student Scrooge says:

    I’m always reluctant to sell my gift cards for less than face value, but I guess if the alternative is not really using them for things I need, perhaps I should consider it.

    That being said, your point about how its almost always worthwhile to buy discounted gift cards is interesting… there are probably a lot of applications for that, and I’ll have to keep it in mind.

  5. Peter says:

    I’m glad to see more and more solutions to the problems that typically plague gift cards. Let’s reduce the money that goes unused!

    I count no less than 28 sites related to buying, selling, swapping, trading, or transferring the balance of your gift card now.

    My own frustrations with Visa gift cards prompted me to create a service to transfer the balance of Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover gift cards to PayPal instantly.

    • victor says:

      what are issues w visa gift card. i thought it acts just like a visa debit card and you can buy anything with it where stores or anyone else take the visa card.

  6. barbara says:

    This is a great idea, but I have one question. I have had restaurant gift cards expire on me. So do store gift cards have expiration dates? And if so, how can you be sure you are not buying an expired one off the site? (I guess that was two questions!) Thank you for your advice.

  7. anita says:

    Anyone know if you can buy a visa/amex card using a store gift card at stores that sells them, e.g. grocery stores, target, etc?

    • Terrie Anderson says:

      I have purchased other gift cards with a Safeway gift card I received. I had a $200 Safeway gc and I purchased 4 $50 Target gift cards with it at Randall’s which is a Safeway owned store.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    PlasticJungle is a good card exchange site, especially because it offers more payment options than it’s competitors, and for many gift card it pays more than the rest.

  9. Jane says:

    I always research the different options available: gift card rescue, cardpool… For every gift card I need to sell there is another site that provides me with the best offer.

  10. Tyler S. says:

    This looks like a handy service, but I’m wondering how difficult it would be for someone to be able to pass off a used or expired gift card. The site says all transactions are guaranteed, so I guess they would resolve it if there ever was a problem. It’s just my first time seeing sites like this, so I’m a little hesitant to try it out.

  11. Geoff Simon says:

    Another option for gift card trading is http://cardcash.com, trade for other gift cards or get cash for them. Like Jane said, if you have the time you can find the best deal for your particular situation across a few sites. Good to have options.

  12. Janie says:

    What about gift certificates to a nail salon? Is there a vehicle for those? Janie

  13. Jeff Crews says:

    I was going to use PlasticJungle for a Starbucks gift card once. Then I decided to use the whole $50 and got wrapped into the Starbucks daily coffee group. Haha

  14. William Tracy says:

    I just bought a Home Depot card.
    It turned out to be a “store credit”
    and I couldn’t use it online.
    There are deals online not available at the store.
    Makes a difference to me
    From what I could tell, no where did it mention I was buying a store credit.
    Online, a pin number is asked for.
    Well, the card I got doesn’t have one.

  15. MEH says:

    I have a Tiffany gift card that I want to sell for cash. However, I believe it is registered in my name. If someone buys it do I need to transfer ownership with Tiffany? How does that work?

    Thanks

  16. Nophia S says:

    I have a stored credit for Davids Bridal that I need to sell. Can you help me? Please email me either way. Thanks,

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