How To Turn Gift Cards Into Cash


how to turn gift cards into cashAhh, gift cards. They can either be the greatest thing ever or the worst thing ever, depending on which store they are for. In the old days, like 10 years ago, if you received a gift card from Aunt Maude to a department store that you never shop at, you really didn’t have many options. But thank goodness technology has come along to save us all. You now can turn gift cards into cash. In fact, you have 5 ways to go about doing this, and I am going to show you each one. So, without futher ado, here is how to turn gift cards into cash.

How To Turn Gift Cards Into Cash

Here is a quick list of the 5 ways of turning gift cards into cash. You can pick the one you like the best and scroll down to read more, or better yet, read all of the options because there are advantages and disadvantages to each one.

  • eBay
  • Craigslist
  • Coinstar Exchange
  • Sell Online
  • Square Reader


Up first is eBay. This should come as no surprise as you can sell virtually anything and everything on eBay. Gift cards are no exception. If you search on the site, you will see a decent amount for sale, so you know there is a market for them there.

The only downside is the price you will get. Now, there are many factors that will ultimately decide how much you get paid for selling a gift card on eBay, including the retailer, the amount of the card and even your eBay seller rating.

But the one thing that really has an impact is trust. In other words, there are some bogus gift cards and gift card sellers on eBay and because of this, many smart buyers are wary of paying close to full price for a gift card.

Even if you give them the card number on the back to verify the amount, you could still spend the money between the time they pay for the card and the time you send it to them. Granted, they can open a claim with eBay to get their money back, but who really wants to go through that hassle?

As a result of these other bad apples, the price you get for a gift card on eBay could be less than what you could get elsewhere. Plus, you have to take into account eBay and PayPal fees on top of this.


Selling a gift card on Craigslist saves you from the fees of eBay, but it also shrinks your potential customer pool. Another issue with selling a gift card on Craigslist is that you have to physically meet the other person.

And, just like with eBay, there is no guarantee the card value is what you say it is. These last two points are the deal breaker for me personally. The last thing I want to do is stand in a parking lot with some person I don’t know as they verify the value of the gift card. Once the amount is proven, there is a chance they run off with the card before paying you.While the odds of this are slim, it can and does happen.

Coinstar Exchange

Yes, this is the same Coinstar that takes your spare change. While I do not recommend Coinstar for turning your change into bills (way too high of a fee!), they are an option for turning gift cards into cash.

You simply find a yellow Coinstar Exchange machine, insert your gift card, and they will tell you how much money they will give you (which is up to 85% of the cards value). If you accept, you get a receipt and take it to the counter of the store the machine is in and they give you your cash.

Now, while it sounds simple, it is a little more involved. To get your money, you have to be prepared to show identification. This includes a phone number, drivers license/state ID card, credit card and an email address. No, you don’t need one or two piece of listed items, you need them all. Yikes!

Another downside is that they only accept around 150 brands of gift cards at the moment and the gift card balance has to be at least $20 for the machine to even accept it.

On the plus side, you can sign up for special offers that will alert you to deals they have going on.

Sell Online

Another option is to sell your gift card online. There are various sites you can use to sell your gift card, but the best one I have found is Gift Card Granny. I like this site because it shows you all of the gift card buying sites and how much they are currently offering for a particular gift card.

So instead of visiting 5 different sites, I just go here and see which site is the best option. I then go to the site and sell my gift card.

As with any of the options listed, the amount you get will depend on the brand of the gift card. In general though, you can expect around 82% of the cards value from most of the larger retailers.

Once you find a site to sell your gift card, you simply mail them the gift card and when they verify the amount, they put the cash into your PayPal account. I’ve used many of the various sites in the past and never had a problem.

Square Reader

This is a great option for those who have a Visa, Mastercard or American Express branded gift card. If you have a Square Reader (this is the gadget that attaches to your smartphone to allow you to accept credit card payments), you can use this to cash in your gift cards.

Simply swipe the card as if you were paying for something and wait for the money to show up in your account. Of course, there is a fee for using a reader like this, but they range around 2%, which is much better than only getting 82% of the cards value.

Sadly though, you can only use the types of gift cards I mentioned above. If you are smart though, you could potentially buy other peoples gift cards and make some money in the process with this option.

Final Thoughts

So there are you options for the question of how to turn gift cards into cash. For me, the hands down winner is going online. It is safe and you are getting a predictable amount for your gift card.

If you cannot wait a few days for the cash, the Coinstar machine would be a good option. I would not recommend eBay or Craigslist, but that is just me personally.

Readers, what are your thoughts on selling gift cards. Are there any methods you use that I didn’t mention?

9 thoughts on “How To Turn Gift Cards Into Cash”

  1. One other way to get value out of unwanted gift cards is to regift them. If you have some gift cards sitting in your drawer that you got from relatives last year, and now you need to come up with a gift for a friend, instead of buying a gift or another gift card, just re-gift one of the ones that you already have.

  2. I had no idea Coinstar exchanged gift cards for cash. Although, that may be something only in the U.S., because I have only seen the green Coinstar machines in the grocery stores. I think I’ve seen someone use it once or twice out of all the times I go to the grocery store, and well, I go to the grocery store a lot. Haha. The fact that the gift card balance has to be at least $20 in order to get cash for it seems silly, because people usually put $20 as the amount to give on the gift card. It’s the less than $5 balances that people want to get rid of.

  3. Wow, this is so clever! I had never thought about using a Square reader! And you can get them for free from Square. I get so many gift cards, and I would much rather have cold hard cash. I will definitely be getting a Square reader JUST for that.

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