Top Ten Ways to Use Unwanted Gift Cards

What to Do With Gift Cards You Are Never Going to Use

Top Ten Ways to Use Unwanted Gift Cards
January 13, 2016

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? We hope so, but you probably have at least one gift that you cannot use or do not want.

You can usually return unwanted gifts, but what can you do with a gift card that you will never use? We have a few suggestions for your consideration.

Ten Ideas for Gift Cards You Won't Use

  1. Sell/Trade It – The marketplace always has an answer. Sites such as or allow you to sell your unwanted gift card for cash or trade it for cards that you will use. Keep in mind that you will not receive full face value – the marketplace also requires their cut.

  2. Re-Gift It – Others may be happy to receive the card you do not want. Are you uncomfortable cashing in your Victoria’s Secret gift card? Do you consider a Chuck E. Cheese gift card pointless since you have no kids? Consider giving these cards to those with kids and…secrets.

  3. Give It Away – Find someone else who frequents the store that issued your gift card and give it to them. Better yet, go to the store and give it to a random stranger or use it to pay their bill at the checkout counter. Experience the joyous feeling of making someone else’s day with a unique way to “pay it forward.” (Although a man offering a stranger a Victoria’s Secret gift card may be misconstrued.)

  4. If you know of someone experiencing hard times, give it to him or her – anonymously, if you have to in order to maintain his or her pride. Consider giving it to charities, food banks or shelters if it is a type of card they can use.

  5. Incentives – Use it as a reward for good behavior for your kids, or as a simple performance reward for an employee. Of course, be sure the card is appropriate for the recipient.

  6. Prizes – Do you have service group meetings or social groups with door prizes? Now you have one more prize for the list.

  7. Make a Game – If you have several people who could use the card, make a game out of it. Set up a competition with a series of clues to find the hidden card first, or make it the prize for a scavenger hunt. This is great to keep kids busy, if you can interest them in the first place.

  8. School – Schools can always use extra resources, especially teachers who buy their own supplies. If it is appropriate, you may be able to help a teacher out, or at least reward him or her for the efforts to educate your children. (Again, we issue the Victoria’s Secret warning.)

  9. Graduations – A little extra gift card in the money folder can go a long way to helping your future college student, especially restaurant cards. Ramen noodles get old quickly.

  10. Shop Yourself – Unless the card has absolutely no value to you – for example, a card for a gourmet nut shop when you have a nut allergy – try looking over the merchandise. You may be pleasantly surprised to find something you can use.

  11. Purchase and Resale – Even if the vendor carries nothing that you like, can you purchase something for a low price with the combined sale and gift card redemption, and then re-sell it for a profit? That is the ultimate capitalist solution.

Now that you have dealt with your unwanted gift card, it is time for the next challenge – dropping not-so-subtle hints on your preferred gift cards for next Christmas!

  Conversation   |   12 Comments

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Steffanie | 01.13.16 @ 18:02
Great tips for those cards. We tend to save and regift ours. Graduation gifts is a great idea!
Erin | 01.13.16 @ 18:03
Do people actually get unwanted gift cards? This has never occurred to me. I figure I can always find *something* that I could spend one on. Anyway, these are all good ideas. Reselling is not bad if you don't mind not getting the full value for it.
Nancy | 01.13.16 @ 18:04
I tend to give or trade my gift cards to my children. They usually always find something that they want. I've never had one that didn't get used.
Sarah | 01.13.16 @ 18:04
This is a great list of ways to use a giftcard you have no other use for. I have regifted before as well as hosted a giveaway for one. Any way to get it into hands where it will get used.
Carla Truett | 01.13.16 @ 18:04
I have a couple old gift cards that I won't use. These tips are great ty! Might as well not let them go to waste.
Elaine | 01.13.16 @ 18:05
Never knew there was a thing as unwanted gift cards. I guess hubs tends to like to eat too much for those food ones to go bad.
gracie | 01.13.16 @ 18:05
What great ideas on how to make the best use of gift cards you won't use yourself! Mine usually get used very quickly with our household members or as gifts!
Bobbie | 01.13.16 @ 18:08
We have only ever sold one gift card for a store that was not in out area, but I have no problems re-gifting random or smaller amounts, just to save me some money.
Beverly | 01.13.16 @ 18:10
Those are some great ideas. You can also make guitar picks out of them.
Amanda | 01.13.16 @ 18:12
I have 2 gift cards now for restaurants that I will never use, maybe I could use these tips and just walk in and pay lunch or part of supper for a couple. Great ideas, better than them sitting in my purse all the time.
Alec | 01.13.16 @ 18:14
I actually went into a Build A Bear store once and gave the cashier my $10 GC to use towards the purchase of the next person since I was never going to use it. The problem I have is partially used cards that don't have enough left to sell or trade!
Kamie | 01.13.16 @ 18:18
I usually go to coinstar and put my gift cards in there. It is not always the best option, but has helped with food at the store.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 07.21.17 @ 08:53

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