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In 2018, gift cards continue to be a highly-requested item. Whether they’re physical, in-store gift cards, digital gift cards, or even prepaid Visa and American Express gift cards, Americans all over the country are still putting gift cards at the top of their wish list.

Gift card sales are expected to top $160 billion in 2018, and they show no sign of slowing down this year. Gift cards are useful to both consumers and retailers – consumers get a flexible, easy-to-use gift, and retailers do not have to worry about as many returns, and get a guaranteed profit based on the sale of a gift card.

One sector the gift card market that is continuing to grow at an exponential rate is the gift card aftermarket. Websites like EJ Gift Cards, where you can buy and sell pre-owned gift cards, are becoming more popular among budget-conscious Americans.

You can get quite a bit of money for the value of a gift card in the gift card aftermarket. You can sell Apple Store gift cards and sell Nordstrom gift cards, for example, and get most of their value in cash from EJ Gift Cards. This lets you get money for a valueless, unwanted gift card – and spend it on whatever you want.

The converse is also true. If you are looking to save money, you can buy gift cards from a gift card reseller for great discounts, and save big on your next purchase.

For those two reasons, the gift card aftermarket is incredibly popular – both among buyers and sellers. How big is the market for pre-owned gift cards? Here’s what we know.

The Size Of The Market – More People Than Ever Are Selling And Buying Gift Cards Online

The most recent data available about the gift card aftermarket puts the total market value at about $1 billion – which is, coincidentally, about the same total dollar amount of gift cards that go unspent every year. However, this data is from early 2017, so it’s likely that the total size of the market has expanded dramatically since then.

Why are more people buying and selling gift cards online? There are several reasons. Here are the top 5 reasons we think that people continue to buy and sell Target gift cards, Gap gift cards, and other gift cards online.

  • Gift cards continue to grow in popularity – We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. The demand for gift cards has not stopped since they were introduced, and they are still the #1 most wished-for item, according to WalletHub. As gift cards continue to flow into our consumer environment, it’s only natural that more people would seek to sell and buy them in the gift card aftermarket.
  • There are more gift card marketplaces than ever – While the idea of a “gift card marketplace” didn’t even exist even a decade ago, today there are dozens of gift card marketplaces where you can buy and sell gift cards. EJ Gift Cards is a leader in this market – we buy hundreds of gift cards and pay via PayPal, and sell them to our users at deep discounts!
  • Selling and buying gift cards online is no longer “scary” – In the past, buying and selling gift cards online was quite risky. There were some websites, like eBay, where sellers and buyers were often scammed, and lost out on the value of their gift card.

    But now, it’s easy and safe to use online gift card marketplaces, making them much more appealing to everyday consumers.
  • People are looking to get more out of their money – As the 2007-2008 financial crisis reminded us, it’s always a good idea to find ways to scrimp and save, in case the worst happens. Today, a new generation of Americans is using budgeting apps, and is becoming more financially savvy.

    In addition, millennials are becoming a larger part of the consumer environment, and they are much more comfortable using apps and the internet to buy, sell, and use gift cards online.
  • Digital gift cards make it easier (and safer) to buy and sell – Digital gift cards are a godsend to the gift card aftermarket. Because digital gift cards can be delivered instantly, and are invulnerable to common types of gift card fraud, they can be bought and resold very easily. You don’t have to wait for a physical gift card to arrive in the mail!

For these reasons, and quite a few others, the gift card aftermarket will continue to grow both in 2018 and beyond.

Now that we’ve examined the state of the gift card aftermarket, it’s time to dig into some of the more granular statistics related to gift card reselling, as compiled by Gift Card Granny.

The Most Resold Gift Cards – Which Cards Are The Most Popular?

The first statistic we’ll look at is related to the brands that consumers tend to re-sell the most. These gift cards tend to be popular, and have a high resale value that makes them a good choice for reselling on the aftermarket.  Here are the cards with the highest reselling rates:

  • iTunes, 6.54%
  • Amazon, 6.07%
  • Best Buy, 4.08%
  • Walmart, 3.44%
  • Target, 3.05%
  • Starbucks, 2.34%
  • Apple, 2.15%
  • Macy’s, 2.14%
  • Nordstrom, 1.79%
  • Kohl’s, 1.59%

If we examine all of these cards as a group, we can see some interesting trends.

First, iTunes gift cards are by far the most popular – likely because they are one of the most highly-sought-after gift cards on the market. iTunes gift cards can be used for apps, in-app purchases, music, movies, books – just about any kind of digital content there is.

The next trend is that large, big-box stores that sell a huge diversity of items are very popular. Amazon, Walmart, and Target all fall into this category. Whether online or in-store, you can purchase almost everything at these stores – from auto parts to clothing, groceries, and more. Because so many diverse items can be purchased, their value is quite high – and they are highly desired by consumers.

Starbucks may seem like a bit of an outlier, here – it’s the only restaurant on the list. However, the ubiquity of Starbucks gift cards makes its presence on the list less surprising. In 2015, for example, Starbucks sold more than 46 million gift cards, making them the most popular gift card by far.

We also see three department stores on the list – Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Kohl’s. This suggests that many gift card sellers may not be interested in shopping for clothes in-store, but may instead choose to shop online, and would like to turn their gift cards into cash.

The Gift Cards With The Highest Value – Get The Most For Your Money!

Next, let’s examine which gift cards have the highest value – that is, which gift cards sell for the largest percentage of “face value” at online gift card marketplaces.

  • Safeway, 92.41%
  • Shell, 90.13%
  • Arco, 90.00%
  • Walmart, 89.93%
  • BP Gas, 89.50%
  • Sunoco, 88.93%
  • Best Buy, 88.45%
  • Speedway, 88.34%
  • Target, 88.32%
  • Chevron, 88.24%

You might expect these gift cards to all be the same as the cards that are the most popular to re-sell – but that’s not the case. Instead, there are 6 gas companies on this list – it seems that gas gift cards are the most likely to get you a big payday!

This may seem strange at first, but it makes sense. Gas gift cards are always going to be useful. If you have a car, you need gas. That’s just a fact. And because over 90% of American households have at least one car, just about everyone can use a gas card.

In fact, utility seems to be the #1 indicator for how much value you can get for a gift card. Gift cards to Safeway, for example, are worth a lot of money because everyone needs to buy groceries. Gift cards to WalMart and Target are valuable for the same reason – Target and WalMart sell items that are useful for just about anyone.

Best Buy is a bit of an outlier here, but it still makes sense that Best Buy gift cards would be very valuable, because electronics and electronic accessories are very popular gifts, and highly desirable among consumers.

The Most Valuable Gift Cards By Industry

Let’s dig a little bit deeper into the value of gift cards by industry. In this section, we’ll look at which consumer market segments have the most valuable gift cards.

  • Grocery – 88.79%
  • Gas – 89.74%
  • Retail – 87.84%
  • Apparel – 85.89%
  • Entertainment – 84.70%

This information makes sense, given the different popular gift cards and high-value gift cards that we have examined so far. Again, the theme of “utility” runs through these gift cards.

The two highest gift card segments – grocery and gas – offer consumers the ability to save money on everyday purchases. That’s why they fetch such high prices, overall.

Retail stores are right behind gas and groceries. Retail gift cards to a store such as Target or Amazon will likely always find a buyer, so this is also not very surprising.

Apparel follows close behind, but offers a significantly lower overall value, compared to gas, grocery and retail. This is likely because there are so many different, smaller apparel stores. A gift card to a highly-desirable store like J. Crew, Nike or Victoria’s Secret may fetch a high price, but a gift card to a smaller, less popular chain like Anthropologie will likely not be worth as much.

Then, last, we have “entertainment” gift cards. These gift cards include gift cards to companies like TicketMaster, movie chains, and even Netflix/Spotify. While these gift cards are useful and highly desirable, they have a more specific audience compared to the other gift cards on the list. This means they are unlikely to command a very high market rate.

This is also the reason that restaurant gift cards have not made the “top 5”. The value of a restaurant gift card can vary wildly – a gift card to Chipotle or Starbucks, for instance, may be worth 80-90%  of its face value, while a gift card to a smaller chain or a less-desirable restaurant could only be worth 65% or less of its face value.

Understand Gift Card Trends – And Get The Most For Your Money!

As you can see, you can make quite a bit of money selling gift cards online – and if you’re interested in buying gift cards online from EJ Gift Cards, you can save money, too!

By understanding these gift card trends, you’ll be able to get more for your gift cards. You can sell gift cards for more of their value, and understand why some gift cards are more highly-desirable than others.

We hope that this guide to the gift card aftermarket has been helpful and informative, and given you some more insights on how to navigate the often-confusing world of gift card buying and selling in 2018.

And if you’re interested in buying or selling gift cards, you’ve come to the right place. EJ Gift Cards is a leading online gift card marketplace. We buy hundreds of cards at industry-standard rates, so you can offload all of your useless gift cards and get paid via PayPal!

And if you’re a budget-savvy consumer looking to save while you shop, we can also help! We sell gift cards at deep discounts. When you shop with us, you’re guaranteed timely delivery, a simple checkout experience, and fantastic customer service if you have any questions!

So don’t wait. Take advantage of the growing gift card aftermarket today – whether you want to sell useless gift cards for cash, or buy discounted gift cards to your favorite retailers! Get started now by creating an account with EJ Gift Cards.