7 On Your Side: What you can do about the $21 billion gift card glut

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Tuesday, August 30, 2022
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It is estimated that there is $21 billion in unused gift cards. 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has tips to save money.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The solution for your inflation blues may be right under your nose and sitting in a desk drawer or wallet: unused gift cards.

Nearly half of us have at least one gift card. In all, CreditCard.com estimates there's $21 billion in unused gift cards.

But good news - 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has 7 tips to get the most out of your gift card glut.

"The truth is right now, with inflation surging, a lot of people would do better with the cash in their pocket rather than a gift card," said consumer expert Andrea Woroch.

The national average is $175 per person collecting dust -- but you can turn yours into dollars by swapping or selling them.

"There are different resale sites like Raise.com, Cardcash.com, none of these sites are going to give you 100% of the value because then they sell them to other shoppers so they have to have some margin room to make a profit on that sale," Woroch said.

Remember it's the nationwide, popular restaurant and stores that are going to fetch you the most money, but the sites are all competing for your cash -- shop around and see who's going to give you the best offer.

Offers should range between 70% and 92% of the value of the card.

So it's important to know how much is on it, Giftcardgranny.com has a valuation tool -- just enter in the details.

"It will tell you the exact amount that's left on that card, if you used it before or just don't know how much was gifted to you in the first place," Woroch said.

If you're swapping and buying another card, Woroch suggests stacking your savings.

For example, she traded for a discount Gap gift card on Raise.com worth $50. She got it for $42.21.

Then she used a code from Couponfollow.com for another 15% off, for an additional saving of $6.33.

The final price, for a $50 dollar gift card, was $35.88 and a total savings over $14.12.

Next tip: Take a picture of gift cards as soon you receive it. Select it as a favorite photo so you can find it easily and use it readily online or at checkout.

"Make sure you are scratching off that little special code, because you're going to need that for checkout," Woroch said.

And if you're not using your cards, consider donating them to a local charity or regifting them.

"Make sure you aren't regifting a gift card to someone that gave it to you in the first place," Woroch said.

To avoid that faux pas, 7 On Your Side decided to write down the gift-giver's initials on all the unused cards.

ALSO READ | 7 On Your Side's money moves to make and avoid for student loan forgiveness plan

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