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HomeMake MoneyTurn Unwanted Gift Cards Into Cash: Gift Card Refunds

Turn Unwanted Gift Cards Into Cash: Gift Card Refunds

Are you sitting on a pile of gift cards that you’re never going to use? Maybe you’re considering gift card refunds but aren’t sure where to start. This article will guide you on turning your unwanted gift cards into cash or other valuable resources, effectively making the most out of your unused assets.

Understanding the Concept of Gift Card Refunds

Gift card refunds can often seem like an enigma. The process, regulations, and possibilities surrounding gift card refunds might initially appear confusing. Let’s dissect this concept further to provide you with a clearer understanding.

Gift cards are generally treated as an alternative form of currency, usually pegged one-to-one with the currency of the issuer’s country. They act as pre-loaded debit cards that can only be utilized within specific retail ecosystems. The concept of gift card refunds, therefore, is fundamentally about finding avenues to convert this “restricted” currency back into a “general” one.

However, gift card refunds aren’t as simple as returning a shirt that doesn’t fit. Most retailers don’t allow for direct refunds on gift cards, citing concerns around potential fraud or misuse. So, direct gift card refunds, where you receive cash back from the issuing retailer, aren’t typically possible.

That said, the rise of the digital age and an increasingly connected global economy have fostered innovative solutions to this issue. Today, various third-party platforms provide indirect avenues for gift card refunds by offering you the opportunity to sell, trade, or even donate your gift cards.

So, while you may not always get the full face value when seeking gift card refunds, you can still recoup a significant portion of it. In this way, gift card refunds become less about getting a full refund and more about maximizing the value of an unwanted gift card.

As we delve into the various ways to get cash from your unwanted gift cards, remember that every method has its pros and cons, and what works best for you will depend on your specific circumstances.

What Are Gift Card Refunds?

Gift card refunds can be perceived as an elusive concept, but in essence, they represent the act of converting an unwanted gift card back into cash or credit. While this might initially seem straightforward, the fine print attached to many gift cards can make the process a little more complicated. Let’s demystify it.

When we talk about gift card refunds, we’re not typically referring to returning the gift card to the retailer for cash. Most retailers have strict no-refund policies on gift cards to prevent fraudulent activities. Instead, the term “gift card refunds” often relates to the different strategies that consumers can use to turn their unwanted gift cards into cash or other usable forms.

For instance, gift card refunds may involve selling your gift card on a dedicated platform, swapping it for a more desirable card, or even donating it for a tax write-off. Each of these actions has the same goal: transforming a useless gift card into something of value.

The process of gift card refunds varies significantly based on the platform used and the type of gift card you have. Generally, the more popular the issuing store, the easier it will be to get a larger portion of the card’s face value back. The refund process may involve providing the card’s details, verifying its value, and then waiting for a buyer or receiving an immediate offer from the platform itself.

Gift card refunds ultimately provide an essential service, helping consumers salvage the value of unwanted gift cards. While you may not always receive the full face value, it’s a practical way to ensure that your gift card doesn’t go to waste. After all, some return on a gift card is infinitely better than stashing it away, forgotten in a drawer, only for it to expire unused.

How to Get Cash from Your Unwanted Gift Cards

Getting cash from your unwanted gift cards may seem like a challenge, but with the right strategies and tools, you can effectively navigate this process. Here are some more detailed strategies to transform those unused gift cards into funds you can spend anywhere.

Sell Your Gift Cards Online

The internet has opened up numerous avenues for us to turn unwanted items into cash, and gift cards are no exception. Several online platforms specialize in the resale of gift cards, and their popularity has led to a thriving online marketplace.

One of the most straightforward ways to get cash from your unwanted gift cards is to sell them on these online platforms. Websites like Cardpool, Raise, and GiftCash allow you to either sell the gift card directly to the platform or list it for sale to other users. Each method has its pros and cons.

When selling directly to the platform, you typically receive an immediate offer and can get your money quickly. However, these platforms generally offer less than the full value of the card. For instance, for a $100 gift card, you might receive an offer for $85 or even less.

On the other hand, when you list your gift card for sale, you can set your price. You might be able to sell your gift card for closer to its full value, but it could take more time to find a buyer, and some platforms may charge a small fee for the service.

Before listing or selling your gift cards, make sure you’ve checked the balance and read the terms and conditions on the website. Some platforms might only accept gift cards from certain retailers, or they might have a minimum balance requirement.

Exchange Them at a Gift Card Kiosk

In addition to online platforms, there are also physical kiosks where you can sell your unwanted gift cards. Companies like Cardpool have kiosks in shopping centers across the country.

These kiosks work much like an ATM for gift cards. You simply enter your gift card information, and the kiosk will make you an offer based on the current market value of the card. If you accept the offer, you’ll receive a voucher that you can redeem for cash at the customer service desk or a designated store cashier.

Keep in mind that, much like online platforms, kiosks won’t typically offer the full face value of your gift card. However, the advantage of using a kiosk is the immediacy—you can walk away with cash in your pocket the same day.

Whether you choose to sell your gift cards online or at a kiosk, remember that each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Consider your personal circumstances, such as how quickly you need the cash and how much effort you’re willing to put into the process, before deciding on the best approach.

Check for a Store Refund Policy

While the vast majority of retailers adopt a strict no-refund policy for gift cards, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Some smaller businesses or local stores may offer more flexibility, especially if they know the gift card is not going to be used. A store might be willing to issue a refund for the unused gift card, giving you back cash or crediting the amount back to your debit or credit card.

This refund process usually involves presenting the gift card at the physical store, along with proof of purchase, and requesting a refund. Keep in mind that the ability to get such a refund will often depend on the store’s policies, the manager’s discretion, and sometimes even the jurisdiction in which the store operates.

It’s important to remember that larger chains and department stores rarely, if ever, offer this service. Their policies are usually firm due to the volume of customers they serve and the potential for misuse of such a policy.

However, it never hurts to ask! If you’re unsure about a particular store’s policy, give them a call or visit their customer service desk. The worst they can say is no, and you might be pleasantly surprised by their willingness to accommodate your request.

Regift Them

If you’re finding it hard to convert your unwanted gift cards into cash, or perhaps the return isn’t worth the effort, there’s always the option of regifting. Regifting is simply the act of giving an unwanted gift card to someone else as a present. While it might not put cash directly into your pocket, it can save you money in the future.

For example, if you’ve received a gift card for a bookstore, but you prefer audiobooks, you might not find much use for it. However, you probably have a friend or family member who loves physical books. By regifting the card, you can make sure it’s used and appreciated rather than wasted.

Regifting can be particularly useful around the holiday season or when birthdays roll around. It’s an economical and sustainable way of giving a gift, especially when budgets are tight.

Remember, the goal of regifting should always be to provide a gift that the receiver will genuinely appreciate. It’s a great option for ensuring that an unwanted gift card isn’t wasted, and it can save you money in the long run.

However, always make sure to check the expiry date of the gift card before regifting. You wouldn’t want to give someone a gift card that’s about to expire soon. It’s also worth double-checking the balance of the gift card, to avoid any awkward situations later on.

Donate the Gift Card to Charity

Donating your unwanted gift cards to charity is another viable option that comes with its unique set of benefits. This option allows you to turn an unused gift card into a force for good. Various charitable organizations gladly accept gift card donations and use them in several ways.

Organizations might use these gift cards to purchase supplies or other necessities. For instance, a charity might use a supermarket gift card to buy food for a food bank, or an office supply store gift card to purchase stationery for their administrative needs. Other organizations give donated gift cards directly to those they serve, providing them with the means to purchase much-needed items.

Moreover, in the U.S., donating gift cards to qualified charitable organizations can also have tax advantages. The IRS allows you to claim a tax deduction for the full value of the gift card, which can be helpful during tax season.

To donate your gift card, visit the charity’s website or call them to see if they accept gift card donations and learn about their process. Some organizations allow you to mail in physical gift cards, while others may accept gift card donations online.

Several online platforms, like, allow you to donate your unwanted gift card to a charity of your choice. They have a broad selection of charities to choose from, making it easy for you to find a cause you’d like to support.

In the end, donating your unwanted gift cards can offer a win-win situation. You’ll be decluttering your wallet and, at the same time, making a positive impact on the lives of those in need.

Legalities and Rules Around Gift Card Refunds

When it comes to the legal aspects surrounding gift card refunds, it’s essential to understand that rules and regulations can vary widely. Laws governing the use, expiration, and refund of gift cards can change based on the jurisdiction or even the specific policies of the card-issuing company. Here’s a closer look at some key legalities you should be aware of.

Federal and State Laws

In the United States, gift cards are regulated at both federal and state levels. The federal CARD Act of 2009 stipulates that most gift cards cannot expire within five years from the date they were activated and generally limits inactivity fee on gift cards except in certain circumstances.

However, state laws can sometimes offer more consumer-friendly protections. For instance, in some states like California and Washington, gift cards never expire, irrespective of what’s mentioned in the fine print.

Regarding refunds, a few states such as California, Colorado, Maine, and others require retailers to refund a gift card balance if it falls below a certain threshold. However, these laws typically apply only to cards issued by the retailer for goods and services and do not extend to bank-issued gift cards that carry a card network logo like Visa or Mastercard.

Retailer’s Policies

Even with legal protections in place, the specific refund policy will largely depend on the retailer that issued the gift card. As mentioned earlier, most retailers have a strict policy against cash refunds for gift card balances, mainly due to potential fraud risks.

However, some retailers may offer refunds under specific conditions. For instance, if the gift card was purchased directly from the retailer using a credit card, and the purchaser has a receipt, the retailer may be willing to refund the gift card back to the credit card used for the purchase.

Third-Party Platforms

For gift card exchanges and resales, the rules and regulations primarily depend on the policies of the platform you use. Most platforms will offer a refund or exchange if the card’s balance is not as advertised or if there’s an issue with the card.

However, these platforms generally have safeguards in place to protect both buyers and sellers, so it’s crucial to read and understand their policies before using their service. This includes checking the platform’s fees, understanding their dispute resolution process, and knowing how they handle fraud.

In conclusion, while the legal landscape of gift card refunds can be complex, being informed about your rights and the options available can help you make the best decisions regarding your unused or unwanted gift cards.


Navigating the landscape of gift card refunds doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Whether it’s selling your gift cards online, checking for refund policies, regifting, donating to charity, or understanding the legal aspects, you have several options to make sure your unwanted gift cards don’t go to waste.

Remember, the process begins with understanding what gift card refunds entail and the strategies available for maximizing the value of your unwanted gift cards. After all, an unused gift card is just money left on the table.

In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to get cash from your unwanted gift cards, albeit not always at face value. Various third-party platforms are willing to take your unwanted gift cards and offer cash or other forms of credit in return. Or, if you prefer, you can always opt to donate your gift cards to a worthy cause.

However, like with all financial decisions, it’s crucial to do your due diligence. Understand the fees, rules, and potential risks associated with each method, and always read the fine print before making a decision.

Ultimately, getting a gift card refund or maximizing the value of an unwanted gift card is about ensuring that no gift—no matter the form it comes in—goes unappreciated or unused. So, the next time you find an unused gift card lying around, you’ll know exactly what to do.