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Pogue’s Basics: Money – Gift card sites

OK, we need to talk about gift cards.

What a racket, man! It’s a cash cow so big, you can hear it mooing from the moon.

Let’s say you buy me a gift card for my birthday — let’s say a $50 card to use at Target. Right off the bat, I could lose it or file it away and never use it. That, in fact, is exactly what happens to about 20 percent of all gift cards. Your $50 now belongs to Target: 100 percent profit, zero effort.

OK, what about when I do buy something with your card? Well, Target comes out ahead then, too. I’ll have a hard time spending exactly $50. So either my purchase comes in under $50, in which case Target gets to keep the rest of that $50 for free — or I buy something that costs more, in which case Target does a happy dance.

What probably hasn’t occurred to you is how you can profit from the gift-card racket.

First of all, suppose you’ve been given a gift card that you doubt you’ll spend, because it’s a store you don’t use.

This is why you should know about sites like Cardcash.com. These are sites that buy your gift cards. With cash. Not full value — like 65 or 90 percent of its value in cash.

So if you’ve been given one and you’re pretty sure you’ll never use it, by all means: Sell it.


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