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January 05, 2022

What to do with gift cards you won't use

As much as 25 per cent of the billions spent on gift cards this year in Canada is expected to go unredeemed.

Got a new card you simply won’t use or a few gathering dust in a drawer? By far, the best way to get full value for them is to swap with a friend or a family member who can put them to good use. But the word might get out and then what do you do?

You can always go the Craigslist or Kijiji route, of course, meeting lots of interesting low-ballers in your driveway. But that can be a real hassle.

That’s why a secondary gift card industry has cropped up online to turn the cards into cash or dollars for stores where you actually shop.

Sites like Plastic Jungle, Cardpool, and Swapagift will give you up to 90 per cent back (the more popular store, the higher return on the card) via PayPal. Unfortunately, none of these services are particularly Canada-friendly.

Locals may be better off turning to CardSwap, a peer-to-peer online market which buys and sells verified gift cards at discounted rates of 10 to 40 per cent, charging sellers six per cent of the sale price, with a minimum fee of $4.50.

Once buyers have paid, you must ship them your gift card. When they receive it, you'll be paid by cheque directly from CardSwap.

Giftah also converts Canadian gift cards into cash, but operates by buying unwanted cards at a discount  from users and then listing them for sale at a smaller discount.

The way that it works is you mail them card, they verify the balance, and then they pay you by cheque or through Paypal.

Tell us: Are you a gift card hoarder? What have you done with cards that you couldn’t use?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...