In less than a week, wrapping paper will be in the recycle bin and long-lusted after gifts will be on display. But what should we do with gift cards for stores or services we really don't need?
Happily, you can now trade them for cash during Gift Card Exchange Day on Dec. 26, when resellers are paying the highest premiums of the year. Since gift cards were once again the most requested present for the holidays, many of those rectangle plastic pieces will go begging the day after Christmas.
According to the National Retail Foundation, 80 percent of consumers planned on buying at least one gift card this year. SmartMoney.com noted a TowerGroup prediction that total transactions would exceed $100 billion. Yet the same study also estimated lost value on gift cards would reach $2 billion this year.
"We wanted to create an opportunity for everyone to come out ahead," said Gift Card Exchange Day Founder Luke Knowles. "With this event, we're trying to ensure unwanted gift cards don't wind up in the back of junk drawers until they expire."
In essence, Gift Card Exchange Day responds to an all-too-common phenomenon. We harbor a tendency to buy gifts we'd like to receive, meaning vegetarians end up with gift cards for steak houses and non-readers get bookstore cards.
In honor of the event, here are five tips for getting the most out of your unwanted gift cards.
1. Don't Wait
It's easy to forget about unwanted cards after the tree is down, which is one reason the event is scheduled for the day after Christmas. As they say, "Out of sight is out of mind."
2. Check Your Balance
Check your gift card balance on the Gift Card Exchange Day website. It's not unknown for thieves to swipe card numbers off store racks, then use them to make purchases online. Checking your balance is a good way to make sure there's actually money loaded on the card before you try to sell it.
3. Remember, It's Easy
All you have to do is go to GiftCardExchangeDay.com, enter the merchant name, and click "Get Offers." You'll instantly receive bids from companies interested in buying your gift card. Many of these companies will also provide you with a pre-paid mailing label after you accept their offer.
4. Watch for the Best Price
Several resellers participate in the event, so you may get a variety of offers. Don't be surprised by the return you'll get on the card's face value as this is the time of year when gift card resellers' inventories are depleted and they're trying to restock.
5. Buy What You Really Want
With all that extra cash, go to GiftCardGranny.com and buy a discount gift card you really want for up to 50 percent off the face value. Now you're ready to hit the January sales.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!