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8 uses for unwanted gift cards

You can donate, re-gift or sell them online.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 6, 2009 5:57PM

Not all gift cards are welcomed by their recipients. Maybe you got a Nordstrom card although you're a thrift-store kind of gal. Maybe Uncle Fred gave you a Wal-Mart card, not knowing you're one of those folks who has problems with that merchandising giant's policies. Or maybe you, like MSN Money columnist Liz Pulliam Weston, simply don't like gift cards. 

Remember that the giver meant well, and go ahead and write your thank-you note. After that, you're free to dispose of that gift card in any of the following ways. 

(How to write a thank-you note for something you're planning to ditch? Try this: "Many thanks for your generous gift. It was so kind of you to think of me. The gift card will come in very handy."

And it will come in handy, though not necessarily in the way the giver might have envisioned.)

Get creative
Shop post-holiday clearance sales.
Combine this "free" money with deeply discounted prices to buy some gifts for next year, or maybe a few things you want/need yourself. Don't overspend, though. A $500 handbag minus that $50 gift card is still $450 on your Visa.

Buy more gift cards. Some people like getting them. I used part of a gift card someone had given me to buy a gift card for my sister and her husband for Christmas. They love this specialty market and shop there regularly. 

Think ahead. Get your newborn some toddler togs. Buy a wedding album for friends who just got engaged. Purchase a year's worth of greeting cards.

Make a charitable donation. Who doesn't like tax write-offs? Find an agency or charity that can use the card(s), and be sure to get a receipt.

Turn them into a door prize. Special event upcoming at your kid's school, your church, your fraternal organization? A $25 or $50 gift card makes a swell prize.

Give them as gifts. Think of gift cards as birthday or Christmas presents you don't have to buy. Be sure there's no expiration date or sneaky fee.

Sell it online. Sites like Plastic Jungle and will buy your gift cards outright, or let you sell or trade with others. 

Sell or trade locally. If you have a card you can't use, put the word out among your friends and relatives -- except, of course, for the friends/relatives who gave you the cards in the first place.

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Published Dec. 28, 2008


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