Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ensuring holiday gift cards are put to good use

Now that you have recovered from the holiday gift exchange hang-over, you have realized that perhaps someone else can use that gift card for that restaurant that you never go to.  What to do?  Relax, you have options.

With an ever increasing list of companies offering gift cards, an aftermarket has flourished for recipients who may be more interested in getting a new video game than perhaps a night out at a buffet restaurant with a hundred of their closest friends.

Enter gift card exchange websites.  These have been proliferating for a few years now and consumers are taking notice.  How do they work?  First, if you don't know your card's balance, visit Gift Card Rescue, locate the merchant, and enter the card number.  It doesn’t have to be a whole number, or even a nice round one to be worth something.  If it's not listed, visit the company website.  If you used part of one card and would like to exchange the balance for another, you can. It just might need to be enough of an amount to entice a potential buyer, such as being at least $25.  Next, peruse the merchant listings to see if someone is willing to trade for a card that you have.  No deals there?  No worries.  See if the gift card exchange site will simply buy your card from you.  You will take upwards of 10-20% of the price in fees (and fees do vary with sites), but you will still come out ahead.

If either the website will be buying the card from you, or you are going to swap it with another customer, follow the instructions carefully.  You don’t want any delays in processing your exchange because you left out a Department code or P.O. Box number.  When you send a card in, it’s also wise to use certified mail. The gift card’s value may be rather substantial and you don’t want to lose something that’s almost as good as cash.

There are several sites you can check out, but some well known ones include:

Swap A Gift
Plastic Jungle

If you are worried about the legitimacy of such sites, they have been widely reported in the press, so you can rest assured that you will not be scammed.