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R.I.P. Gift Cards. You had so much potential. Now you rot

by J. Money on Wednesday, August 6, 2008

gift card guyNow that’s an attention grabbing title! haha…I’ve been coming across a lot of hooplah lately surrounding the idea of gift cards lately, so I figured i’d drop my own 12 cents. (I don’t know why people say “2″ cents, i don’t think there’s any logic to it is there? I’m changing it to “12″ cents)

Did you know that billions of dollars go UNUSED by not cashing in these cards? The numbers vary depending on where you’re reading, but about 10% of them never make it out alive. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it IS basically throwing cash in the trash. Those poor Washingtons never stood a chance :(

“There is no way a $100 bill would sit in my drawer for a year,” said Bob
Butler, founder of Cardavenue, a Web site for buying, selling and swapping gift
cards. “But people will let a $100 card do that. . . .” – blog.cleveland.com

SO TRUE! I don’t think i’ve been that bad in the past, but I’ve definitely slipped and let a couple expire over the years. I just forget, but at least i’m not the only one ;) When it comes down to it though, “they” say it’s better to spend it sooner than later. Especially now a days when a handful of companies are going under (The Sharper Image, Bombay Company, etc) where the plastic is worth as much as a pile of turds.

But what if you can’t stand the store? Or it’s too far a drive, or you really don’t need anything?

Don’t like your card? Trade it in!
According to good ol’ Butler quoted above, “If you don’t want this money, go get other money. … I think our biggest issue is, people don’t realize there are alternatives.” I couldn’t have said it better there Bob.

I, personally, had not idea there were places online where you can trade them in! And sometimes even for cash! Freakin’ genius if you ask me. Here are a few places offering such services, courtesy of the same business blog over at cleveland.com:

Cardavenue.com: Fee: 50 cents plus 3.95% from sellers and traders and shipping.
Leveragecard.com: No fees. Users pay shipping and subject to marketing efforts.
Plasticjungle.com: Fee: 10% for buyers and sellers; 35% to 45% if selling for cash.
Swapagift.com: Fee: $1.99; 30% to 40% of value.

I haven’t tried any of them myself, but i’d love to hear if anyone else has!

Don’t want to trade it in? Re-gift it (*gasp!*)
I really hate to admit this, and i came close to leaving this part out, but it IS an idea :) If you’re not one to buy things just for the sake of it, why not re-gift it? Or even more, what if your budget is tight and you’re about to attend 5 weddings?

Well, for the first time ever, I used a gift card last night to buy gifts for someone else. We had $200+ in Bed Bath and Beyond credit, and we really don’t need anything else since we got so much from our wedding. The Mrs. has been dying to use it for the handful of weddings we have coming up, so I finally just gave in…and I feel great about it! Our budget is still in tact, and we didn’t let the money just dry up.

Yes it would be better to use it on yourself since the giver of it probably wanted you to do so, but if it makes you happier using it for others I say go for it. If the giver ever asks what you picked up on their behalf, just tell them “financial peace of mind”. haha…

The point is, you should really just DO SOMETHING with them and not let them rot away (as I so elegantly put it). Someone wanted you to enjoy life a little, and it’s about time to make their wishes come true…or at least someone else’s ;)


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Corrie Davidson August 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Good reminder- somehow we always forget about those giftcards! Many stores are cracking down on expiration dates, so hopefully everyone follows your example. Love the advice to leave all other forms of currency at home!

p.s. I think (think) the two cents thing comes from the British tuppence which was like our penny and was used as a way of being humble before giving advice… like self-deprecating… anyway, I could be wrong, but thats what was in my brain :)

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2 J. Money August 23, 2010 at 10:39 pm

haha… well I’ll take it! thanks ;) it sounds good anyways!

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