Tips for Having a Positive, Safe Experience with Gift Card Exchanges
Gift cards are one of the most requested gifts in the U.S. Yet despite their popularity and versatility, you may sometimes find yourself with well-intentioned gift cards that go unused – like when you receive a gift card for a store where you don’t frequently shop. This has resulted in the creation of gift card exchange services online and in retailers across the country.
Gift card exchanges began popping up after consumers started selling or trading their unused gift cards on their own – often through unsafe channels like Craigslist. Gift card exchanges now allow consumers to sell their gift cards for a payout that is less than the gift card’s value, and purchase other previously owned gift cards at a discount.
We encourage you to educate yourself on gift card exchanges before selecting one, as the services are still new and not all offer equal experiences to shoppers.
Here are some tips to consider when using a gift card exchange:
- Remember that exchanges are independent from the retailers whose cards they sell. Retailers do not guarantee or stand by transactions that occur on exchanges. Do your homework and only deal with exchanges that you have researched and feel comfortable using.
- Use gift card exchanges that offer post-purchase guarantees. Reputable exchanges will offer you a guarantee that the cards you purchase are legitimate and verified. Some secondary marketplaces have guarantees as short as seven days while others have up to a year; the longer the guarantee, the better.
- Select gift card exchanges that verify the balance of gift cards before selling to shoppers: This will help protect you from buying cards that might carry less value than advertised, or that could even be empty. (An important consideration since gift cards sold via gift card exchanges are previously owned goods.)
- Work with exchanges or marketplaces that verify the seller. Not only do you want to make sure the gift card balance has been confirmed, but you also want to make sure the seller won’t drain the balance after it has been verified and after the gift card has been purchased.
- Pay attention to how and when payout will happen. Some gift card exchanges found in retail locations will only offer payment via store gift cards. Online exchanges may offer payment via a mailed check, direct deposit or PayPal. Also, some exchanges may take lengthy amounts of time to pay sellers, and/or may not have practices in place that protect sellers in the event their payout is lost in the mail. Reputable exchanges will offer tracking of a payment shipment.
- Make sure the cards purchased or sold online do not have additional fees associated or expiration dates that have already passed. A reputable exchange will not sell a card that has fees (such as a Visa or AmEx gift card), nor will they buy or sell gift cards that expire. Protect yourself by only buying or selling gift cards on sites that have clearly stated guarantees—the longer the guarantee window, the better.
- When selling a gift card, expect to make less than the value of the card: A shopper selling a $100 gift card to a gift card exchange will not receive a $100 payout. The exact amount of payout will depend on the exchange used and the demand for the particular card being sold.