Gift Card Exchange Sites: Trading or selling your unused gift cards

Updated
It's happened to all of us. You get a gift card for your birthday or the holidays and several months later you realize you've yet to use it. Or worse, the card you receive is for a store you've never heard of. In the past, I've been guilty of letting such cards collect dust in my wallet, but now there are various online sites where you can trade or even sell them for their cash equivalent. (Nothing beats a cash gift.)

SEE ALSO: One for You, One for Me: The Best BOGO Gift Card Freebies

All of the sites mentioned below offer some form of fraud protection, although only Plastic Jungle is rated with the Better Business Bureau, earning a B+ rating. As a result, I'd personally recommend sticking with smaller transactions. In fact, for the cleanest and quickest transactions, I'd sell my cards directly to the site (an option offered by most of the sites) rather than its members.

I'd also recommend staying away from any points systems as you never know when one of these sites may close. Otartel.com, another gift card-trading site, was recently shut down after scamming over a hundred customers out of $155,000.

Nevertheless, with a little precaution and diligence these sites can help you cash in on any unwanted gift cards.

Plastic Jungle
How it works: Plastic Jungle lets you buy, sell, and trade unwanted gift cards with other members. Alternatively, you can sell your card to Plastic Jungle via its QuikCash option.
What we saw: Using Plastic Jungle's QuikCash option, I was able to get $37.50 for a $50 Best Buy gift card and $35 for a $50 Macy's Card. Plastic Jungle also gave me the option of trading my Best Buy card for a $39.38 Amazon gift card or my Macy's card for a $36.75 Amazon card. Not a bad swap, but I wanted to see if I could get more mileage from my cards, so I hit the Plastic Jungle Marketplace. Here you list the price you want to sell your card for (discounted cards will obviously sell faster). In addition, you can also have Plastic Jungle automatically reduce your asking price every day until someone bites. If you're feeling generous, you can even have people make offers on your card(s).
Fees: As the sender, you're responsible for all shipping fees. Charges range from $0.58 to $16.25 depending on where and what service you choose. For tracking purposes, Plastic Jungle lets you choose between USPS Priority, USPS First Class, and USPS Express Overnight. For every successful sale or trade, Plastic Jungle charges the seller/trader a 10% commission fee (the highest of all the sites we looked at) which is based on the final gift card sale or trade price .

GiftCardRescue.com
How it works: GiftCardRescue.com lets you sell and trade cards with other members. In addition, they will also purchase gifts cards directly from you or sell them for up to 35% off original price.
What we saw: When selling directly to GiftCardRescue.com, the average buyback ranges from 60% to 65% of your card's total value. (You can find their price list here.) For the average card holder, that's not a lot and you can probably fetch more money from other sites. However, if you have Target or Walmart cards, GiftCardRescue.com will give you 80% of the card's total value. Here, my $50 Best Buy card fetched $37 ($0.50 less than Plastic Jungle), whereas my Macy's card went for $32.50 ($4.25 less than Plastic Jungle). Low- and high-value card owners take note: GiftCardRescue.com doesn't purchase cards under $20 or over $500.
Fees: Shipping is paid for by GiftCardRescue.com.

MonsterGiftCard.com
How it works: Rather than exchange cards directly with members, Monster Gift Card acts as an escrow service and collects all gift cards from its members before sending them off to their buyers. They do this to verify the value of each card, which is great if you're not the trusting type. If your card isn't purchased by anyone after 90 days, Monster Gift Card will either send it back to you or elect to purchase it from you. Alternatively, you can opt to sell your card directly to Monster Gift Card from the start.
What we saw: Monster Gift Card offered us the most money for both our Best Buy and Macy's gift cards. The former fetched $39, whereas the latter went for $35 (the same price offered by Plastic Jungle). In addition to cash payments, Monster Gift Card also offers a points system, wherein you can sell your cards for points which can later be used as money to buy other gift cards. Personally, I'd steer clear from collecting any points and opt for the money option because if the company closes, you're bound to lose all of your collected points. Like GiftCardRescue.com, Monster Gift Card has stringent selling requirements and doesn't purchase cards under $10 or over $200.
Fees: You're responsible for shipping and Monster Gift Card requires that all correspondence be sent via certified mail with insurance and a tracking number. It's also worth noting that Monster Gift Card deducts 4.95% of the value of your sale in addition to a $1.49 listing fee from your total payment. (Fee is only applicable when selling to other members.)

CardAvenue*
How it works: Card Avenue is like eBay for gift cards letting you sell your unwanted cards via auctions. The amount of money you get for a card depends on the demand for your card and the type of discount (if any) you set. Likewise, the price you pay for a gift card is typically based upon the number of bidders in that auction.
What we saw: Before listing your card you must have a PayPal account and link it to your Card Avenue account. Once completed, you can begin auctioning your card(s). While some people may like the auction-like process behind Card Avenue, I wasn't particularly drawn to it. However, I did like that Card Avenue offers a guarantee on auctions of up to $150 via its Cardassure program. For me, this makes Card Avenue a more likely selling option than a site like Craigslist, which offers no such guarantee.
Fees: In addition to shipping, Card Avenue charges a 3.95% fee and $0.50 closing fee for each successful auction.
* Update: This site has since closed.

Final verdict
Ultimately, there's no knock-out site that will let you sell or trade your gift card for its full value. Instead, I'd recommend using a combination of these sites to see which one offers the higher payback. I'd start off with Plastic Jungle and GiftCardRescue.com to see what they'd offer for your card. Next, I'd compare that to Monster Gift Card, which charges one of the lowest commissions (4.95%).

Although its suffered from gift card scandals in the past, eBay is another viable option for selling gift cards if you don't mind the auction process. With these sites in your arsenal, you can rest assured you'll never have problems getting rid of unwanted gift cards again.

Louis Ramirez is dealnews' Features editor.

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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