7 Secrets to Using up Your Gift Card Balance

Gift cards are great. Having money to spend on your favorite things without the guilt? Awesome.

Prepaid bank cards like Visa, Amex, and Mastercard? Even better.

But all too often you’re left with a card that has a few dollars or even a few cents on it with no way to spend it.

Drive all the way out to Home Depot to spend $1.59? Not even worth the gas.

Worse, bank cards can’t be combined with any other payment method in many cases, making them close to unusable. Boooooooooo.

So, what to do?

Gift cards are easier to offload

1) Sell the Balance. Sites like CardCash will pay you up to 92% of the value of the card. Check to make sure that there are no minimums the site will accept (CardCash has none).

2) Cash it Out – if you live in the West Coast. The 8% of Americans lucky enough to live in the California, have fantastic weather along with a great law that requires stores to cash out gift cards below $10.00. Check your state policy here.

Prepaid cards

There are a few creative options to use the balance on a prepaid gift card.

3) Apply it to Your Amazon Account. Use the cards to buy Amazon gift cards which you can then apply to your Amazon account. No expiration dates, and no spending limits. And what can’t you buy on Amazon?

4) Pay yourself! Use square.com to cash out the card. Easy, convenient, cash. Drawback: 2.75% lost to payment costs. Also, a word of caution: Overuse can get your account flagged for fraud.

5) Use it in a store. Most cashiers can split payment between multiple options. Online, it’s a different story completely…

6) Get a Simple Visa Card. They’re cool. Also you can add prepaid Visa and Mastercard gift cards directly to your account. Then you can use it to withdraw cash from ATMs or in stores. This is especially useful right now since there is no transfer fees.

7) Add it to Paypal. You can add your prepaid cards to your paypal account and use it pay for any place that accepts paypal. Easy as pie 😉 Read this for more information.

3 Alternative Ideas (That don’t involve money)

 * Gift to a Child. Remember how rich a quarter made you feel way back then? Make a kid’s day and give them your gift card, they’ll be thrilled. And you’ll feel good too.

*  Test the waters. Signing up for an online service and just don’t trust them? Many sites require a credit card just to sign up. Keep a prepaid Mastercard or Visa on hand that has a few bucks left on it for use while signing up. Once you trust the website and service change it up with a real credit card.

* Give it to charity.  Your heart and wallet will feel lighter. A lot of charities accept donations for both gift cards and prepaid cards.

After you get the balance off of the cards, save them. Old gift cards can make for a really cool DIY home decoration. We even made a table from some of ours:

Look inside the glass, those are all gift cards!




One comment: On 7 Secrets to Using up Your Gift Card Balance

  • I get these cards as bonuses from work and hate carrying them around in my wallet. In the past I have used google wallet to try to deposit the balance, but have had mixed results. Most recently I sold a vanilla visa gift card at prepaid2cash and they sent me a check in the mail. It was simple and I got to throw the card away immediately 🙂

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