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As the holiday season creeps closer, many Americans are facing one certain reality: gift cards. While gift cards can be a fantastic gift, useful, personalized, and valuable, far too many of them are to merchants you’ll never use or have never even heard of.

While the assumption is that the gift card is a foolproof gift (which makes it ideal for mom’s strange new boyfriend to attempt to woo the adult kids over with), many gift cards just aren’t applicable for the people who receive them.

What’s worse is that the people who get these unusable cards often don’t know what to do with them, and they bump around in drawers, baskets, or cars because of it.

Fortunately, it’s now possible to trade gift cards, either for cash or for other gift cards, and people opting for this method have found that the threat of getting an unusable gift card isn’t nearly as real as it used to be.

Why Trade Gift Cards?

Here’s the thing: even if you get a gift card that’s to some obscure shop, or to a clothing company you hate, the person who gave it to you was obviously trying to find you something you’d like, and you don’t want to hurt their feelings by telling them you’re not happy with their effort.

While it’s tough to return a standard gift without alerting the gift-giver of your decision (you do need a receipt, after all), the magic and beauty of gift cards is that they’re simple to trade, and you can go through the whole process without ever alerting the person who purchased the gift card for you.

What’s more, the decision to trade gift cards means that the person who worked so hard to find you something you like will succeed, in a way. Sure, they didn’t nail it on the first try, but as soon as you trade the card in and get either cash or a more usable card in return, you’ll have them to thank!

Why is Gift Card Trade So Important?

While it’s true that swapping out unwanted gift cards is the kind thing to do (instead of letting the gift-giver’s money and effort go to waste, for example), it’s also the socially responsible thing to do. According to the Washington Post, the average American individual has more than $100 in unused gift cards just lying around. Last year alone, more than $750 million in revenue went unclaimed on account of unused gift cards.

With these numbers in mind, it’s clear that trading gift cards isn’t only compassionate – it’s sort of your duty!

Each time a company sells a gift card that doesn’t get used, they miss out on a chance to attract new customers to their business, or capitalize on the customer base they already have. With this in mind, trading gift cards for more usable or in-demand options allows you to get what you want while also giving that company a second chance to pull in a customer who will genuinely appreciate them and what they have to offer.

This is a win on all fronts!

Tips for Trading Gift Cards

So you’ve decided you want to trade gift cards? Great! Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Determine whether your card is high or low value. If your card is to a store like Wal Mart or Target, or to a gas station, it’s very high-value. Because these cards are applicable to a wide variety of people, they’re likely to be more appealing to consumers. Cards to more specific merchants are generally lower-value cards, but can be traded all the same. Knowing where your card sits beforehand, though, will help you predict how much you’ll get for it and what you can expect in terms of return.
  • Move quickly. The holidays are a great time to sell gift cards, and moving quickly can get them off your hands and into someone else’s without too much muss or fuss. With this in mind, don’t hesitate to move on selling your cards. The giver will never know and you’ll be off with a valuable handful of cash or another card shortly.
  • Know your options. You can trade gift cards online, at stores like Target, and at CoinStar terminals. The decision of which option is best for you will depend on your personal goals and desires, but it’s smart to do your research in advance.

Trade Gift Cards: it’s the Way of the Future

While you used to just be stuck with gift cards you didn’t like, trading gift cards makes it possible to swap them out without hurting the feelings of the person who gave them to you. You get what you want and nobody gets hurt!