Turn unwanted holiday gift cards into money

$1 billion in gift cards went unused in 2017 (Photo: MGN)

Each holiday season, millions of well-intentioned Americans scramble to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones, only to load up on a bunch of - you guessed it - gift cards.

Let's face it: gift-giving isn't everyone's forte. That's probably why over $1 billion in gift cards go unused every year. Just this past holiday season, shoppers spent an estimated $27 billion in gift cards.

For those who aren't too keen on redeeming their gift cards, there are ways to turn that plastic into money that can be used anywhere.

While kiosks at grocery stores and malls will convert those cards into fast cash, much of the card's value can be lost in the transaction. Website services involve a waiting period but will put more money back into your pocket.

Here's how the top online competition stacks up when exchanging a $100 Home Depot gift card:

  • In-store card exchange kiosk: $61 cash, immediately
  • Cardpool.com: $83.50, check arrives by mail four days later
  • Card Kangaroo: $83.51, payment arrives after cards received by mail
  • Raise.com: $89.40, requires no post office trip; money transferred when card sells (e.g. $100 Home Depot card sold within two hours)

Raise.com best retained the value of the $100 Home Depot gift card, but different gift cards may yield varying results. It's more work, but a few minutes spent perusing these sites may be worth a few extra bucks.

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