Get paid for that unused gift card

July 12, 2010 5:00:08 AM PDT
Americans spend more than $80-billion a year on gift cards. But about $5-billion worth go unused every year.

So, if YOUR wallet is full of unused gift cards - listen up! Consumer Reports ShopSmart has checked out seven websites where you can SELL your cards for CASH!

Lisa Freeman from Consumer Reports ShopSmart explains, "It turns out you can sell unwanted gift cards for up to 90-percent of the card's value."

ShopSmart checked just how much it could get at each of the sites for a variety of gift cards. They included Applebee's, Bath & Body Works, The Gap, Kohl's, Macy's, Payless, Pier 1, and Walmart. For a $50 Gap card, prices ranged from $32.50 to $40.

"We found in our search that Walmart's card was the most valuable," said Freeman.

When ShopSmart checked, the sites that paid the best prices were Plastic Jungle and Card Pool. But no one site always had the best deals, so you've got to shop around. These sites will also let you BUY gift cards at a discount.

"You could pay just $40 for a $50 gift card. That's $10 saved right there. But you have to be careful."

When buying a gift card, be sure to look for a guarantee on the site.

Lisa tells us, "If the site doesn't have a guarantee, you could be out of luck if the card turns out to be invalid or if it has less than the advertised value."

And don't lose that gift card. You won't be able to replace it because you won't have a receipt.

The government is also getting ready to take action on this issue. Starting next month, new federal rules will make it illegal for gift cards to expire within five years after they've been purchased or reloaded with additional money.