6 ways to put those unwanted gift cards to use - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

6 ways to put those unwanted gift cards to use

Updated:

NEW YORK (AP) - Gift cards are easily forgotten.

All too often they're placed in drawers or stuffed into wallets, never to be seen again. Some $1.7 billion of the $110 billion gift cards bought in 2012 will go unused, according to estimates from research company CEB TowerGroup.

If you're not happy about the store your gift card is from, don't let the money go to waste. You have options, such as trading it in for cash or airline miles.

But the first step to take when you get a gift is to register it on the company's website, says Scott Gamm, founder of HelpSaveMyDollars.com. Registration creates a record of how much money is on the card and will protect you in case you lose the card. Many companies, including coffee chain Starbucks, offer gift card registration. Just check the card provider's website to see if it's offered.

Mobile apps can also help you keep track of your cards. The Gyft app, will even alert you if you are near a store that you have a card for. It stores both electronic and plastic gift cards.

Here are six ways to put a gift card to use:

1. TURN IT INTO CASH

If you have an unwanted gift card, websites like PlasticJungle.com, GiftCards.com and CardPool.com will pay you up to 92 percent of the card's value, depending on how easy it is to resell. For a $100 Target gift card, all three are paying $92. Depending on the store the gift card is for, you may have to mail the plastic card in, but in many cases just typing in the card number works. You're then paid through PayPal or by check. You need to have at least a $25 balance on the card to sell it on PlasticJungle.com and CardPool.com and $20 to sell it on GiftCards.com.

Anyone living near Phoenix, Chicago or Columbus, Ohio, can get hard cash quickly by trying Alula, a new supermarket kiosk that's being tested by Coinstar Inc., the company behind the RedBox DVD rental machines. Alula pays 65 percent to 85 percent of a card's value, depending on demand. The kiosk only accepts plastic cards that are inserted into the machine. They must be worth at least $20. The kiosk will print out a receipt that you can exchange for cash at the register.

2. THINK OUTSIDE THE CARD

Even though a card has a specific store name on the front, you might be able to use it in the parent company's other stores. For example, an Old Navy gift card can be used at Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta stores and on Piperlime, the company's online store. Similarly, TJX Cos. Inc. gift cards can be used at TJ Maxx, Marshalls or at Home Goods stores.

3. TRADE FOR MILES

A lingering gift card balance can bring you closer to a dream vacation. United Airlines customers enrolled in their MileagePlus program can exchange gift cards for award miles through the airline's website. A $25 gift card is currently worth 1,000 award miles. United Airlines accepts gift cards from more than 100 stores. The gift card must have at least $15 on it for the airline to accept it.

4. GIVE TO THOSE IN NEED

Many charities, such as Goodwill, will take your gift card and distribute it to those who can put it to use. Call your favorite and charity and see if it has a gift card program.

5. SWAP FOR ANOTHER CARD

Cards can also be flipped for another retailer. On PlasticJungle.com, you can quickly convert your card into an electronic gift card for Amazon.com.

PlasticJungle.com also charges less if you want to make the switch. Even though the website will pay $92 for a $100 Target gift card, it will give you $94.50 if you choose to turn it into an Amazon card.

6. RE-GIFT IT

You can always re-gift a card to someone who would appreciate it more. You'll get rid of the card and you won't have to buy a gift.

The Gyft app, which stores gift cards on smartphones, also enables you to re-gift the cards. The recipient doesn't need to have the Gyft app downloaded. The gift card can be emailed as an electronic gift card or it can be posted on a Facebook account.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • $2M offered to Ohio farmers to help reduce algae

    $2M offered to Ohio farmers to help reduce algae

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:07 PM EDT2014-08-20 02:07:19 GMT
    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - The federal government is offering $2 million to Ohio farmers to help prevent farm runoff that contributes to potentially harmful algae blooms. Farmers in 20 counties in the western Lake Erie watershed can apply for some of the funds to plant cover crops to reduce nutrient runoff and erosion. The federal money, provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, is aimed at reducing future algae blooms. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Toledo Rep. Marcy Kaptur announced th...More >>
    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - The federal government is offering $2 million to Ohio farmers to help prevent farm runoff that contributes to potentially harmful algae blooms. Farmers in 20 counties in the western Lake Erie watershed can apply for some of the funds to plant cover crops to reduce nutrient runoff and erosion. The federal money, provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, is aimed at reducing future algae blooms. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Toledo Rep. Marcy Kaptur announced th...More >>
  • 5K-8K gallons of fuel oil spills into Ohio River

    5K-8K gallons of fuel oil spills into Ohio River

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:06 PM EDT2014-08-20 02:06:15 GMT
    CINCINNATI (AP) - An estimated 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled into the Ohio River, closing about a 15-mile section of the waterway southeast of Cincinnati. A Coast Guard spokeswoman says that the section of river was closed to river traffic Tuesday to enable cleanup and response. A Duke Energy spokeswoman says the spill from a Duke power plant in New Richmond, about 20 miles southeast of Cincinnati, happened late Monday night. Duke Energy spokeswoman Sally Thelen says the spill oc...More >>
    CINCINNATI (AP) - An estimated 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled into the Ohio River, closing about a 15-mile section of the waterway southeast of Cincinnati. A Coast Guard spokeswoman says that the section of river was closed to river traffic Tuesday to enable cleanup and response. A Duke Energy spokeswoman says the spill from a Duke power plant in New Richmond, about 20 miles southeast of Cincinnati, happened late Monday night. Duke Energy spokeswoman Sally Thelen says the spill oc...More >>
  • Couple stabbed at Ohio home; adult son charged

    Couple stabbed at Ohio home; adult son charged

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:03 PM EDT2014-08-20 02:03:06 GMT
    WESTLAKE, Ohio (AP) - A 22-year-old man suspected of stabbing his parents at their suburban Cleveland home has been charged with felonious assault. Westlake police said in a statement Tuesday that a 58-year-old man was flown to a Cleveland hospital with life-threatening injuries, and his 56-year-old wife was in stable condition. Police say authorities learned about the stabbings after a hang-up 911 call Monday night and a subsequent callback by a dispatcher. The couple's son was arrested wit...More >>
    WESTLAKE, Ohio (AP) - A 22-year-old man suspected of stabbing his parents at their suburban Cleveland home has been charged with felonious assault. Westlake police said in a statement Tuesday that a 58-year-old man was flown to a Cleveland hospital with life-threatening injuries, and his 56-year-old wife was in stable condition. Police say authorities learned about the stabbings after a hang-up 911 call Monday night and a subsequent callback by a dispatcher. The couple's son was arrested wit...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms