Kara McGuire writes about all things related to personal finance. Follow our coupon clipping, retirement saving, bargain hunting, budget mama as she saves, spends and searches for ways to keep more money in her wallet – and yours.

Don't let gift card collect dust

Posted by: Kara McGuire under Shopping Updated: February 8, 2010 - 5:30 PM

Many people give gift cards over the holidays because they don't know what to get a person and would hate to buy them something they don't want or need.

Nice try, but sometimes givers are so off base that they purchase a gift card that a recipient will never, ever use. Or, they buy someone a card with just $10 or $20 in value to a store where merchandise costs 10 times that (yes, that's how I ended up with reflective gloves from The Running Store).

If you haven't spent your holiday gift cards by now, there's probably a reason. Fortunately, you have options.

  1. Regift it. Duh!
  2. "Purchase" a gift. Save it until Christmas, or carry it around and snatch up good deals when they're hot. Then save the items in your gift closet (you mean you don't have a gift stash?). I started this habit last year, particularly for kid birthday gifts, and it has significantly reduced the number of panicked Saturday afternoon trips to Target.
  3. Donate it. Check out a site like Giftcarddonor.com or check with a local charity of your choice to see if it will take unused or partially used cards.
  4. Sell it. This space has really grown in recent years. Sure, there's always eBay and Craigslist. Or you can try one of the marketplaces just for gift card sales such as PlasticJungle.com, GiftCardGranny.com, Swapagift.com, or . You can buy gift cards at a discount on these sites too.
  5. Swap it. Invite your friends over for a gift card group grope. Kind of like a white elephant party. It could be a fun diversion in this frosty weather.

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