The holiday season is second only to birthdays in the number of gift cards given as presents. Whether you have a relative who’s difficult to shop for or you need a last-minute present on Christmas Eve, gift cards are an easy way to check off everyone on your shopping list.

Given the large number of cards being exchanged this time of year, you’re likely to wind up with at least one you don’t want. Approximately $1 billion worth of gift cards went unused in 2013. Letting a card languish in a drawer is not only a waste of money but also unfair to the person who was thoughtful enough to get it for you.

If you get a card you truly can’t use, you have the option of selling or trading it so that you can still enjoy the gift.

How to Sell or Trade Gift Cards You Don’t Want

There are several sites on which you can sell or trade gift cards from a variety of popular retailers. Before checking out any of the sites, it’s worth getting in touch with the store from which the card was purchased and finding out if they accept returns. You’ll likely find out you either can’t get the full value of the card or they’ll only credit the money back to the original method of payment, but it never hurts to ask. If the store is willing to take the card back, your work is done. If not, it’s time to go online and check out other options.

Sites on which you can sell your cards don’t pay face value, but many get very close. The most popular sites offer up to 92 percent of the full amount. It’s a good idea to research all your options or check out sites providing roundups of potential outlets so that you can see where you can get the best value. Even if you lose a bit off the original amount of the gift card, it’s still money you didn’t have before, and it can be put toward something you’ll use.

Trading a card for another one from a retailer at which you shop frequently also means taking a little bit of a loss, but it’s much less than if you never used the card at all. In most cases, the exchange rate is better for trading than selling.

Most sites have a specific minimum balance required on the cards they accept for sale or trade. Although $20 is a common figure, you may not be out of luck with cards of lesser value. Check the terms of individual sites to determine if your card is eligible.

Helpful Websites for Trading

Since trading can get you more bang for your gift card buck than selling, comparing popular trading websites is a good place to start. These sites offer cards from well-known retailers in exchange for the gift you didn’t really want this holiday season.
At CardCash, you can choose to sell or trade your cards. Trading can get you up to 11 percent more than selling, but the total amount you receive depends on the popularity of the retailer associated with the card you want to offload. To find out how much CardCash will offer, enter your card information on their sell page and click the “Get Offer” button. All cards are subject to a fraud check to ensure only legitimate swaps are made. There are no shipping charges, and new cards should ship within two days of CardCash approving your trade.
You’ll never get a disappointing gift card if you trade with Gift Card Granny. Strict partner standards, listed under their Consumer Protection guidelines, protect all gift card sales and swaps. To find out how much to expect from your trade, go to the Sell Gift Card page and choose the trade-in option. You can see what other cards are available in the “Discount Cards” section before making your swap so that you know in advance if you’ll be able to find something you like.

Helpful Websites for Selling

If you’d rather have cash for your card, these sites can help you get the best exchange rate.
Whether your gift card is physical or digital, you can sell it on Cardpool. View their list of accepted retailers to see if your card qualifies and enter the card’s information to find out how much you can expect to get in return. You can either mail your card to Cardpool or verify it online. Payout options include a paper check or an eGift card issued within one business day of Cardpool receiving your card. The site also has kiosks in some locations where you can take your card, sell it, and immediately walk away with cash.
Have more control over the amount you receive for unwanted gift cards when you sell on Raise. With a concept similar to eBay, this site leaves it up to users to set the price for their gift cards. Cards are listed in the Raise marketplace and all transactions are handled by sellers and buyers. You can choose to have your cash delivered through direct deposit, PayPal, or have Raise mail you a check. All you have to do to get started is enter your card’s information and verify your account. Raise takes a 12 percent commission from all sales, so keep this in mind when comparing your selling options.

These websites make it possible to take the gift card a well-meaning relative got you and swap it for something you can use without any hard feelings. Check your options for the highest value, and sell or trade your card through the site with the best offer. Instead of letting it collect dust, an unwanted gift card can turn into one of the presents you really wanted to receive this holiday season.