The National Retail Federation estimates that U.S. consumers spent $18 billion on gift cards last holiday season. The association has no way to quantify the eventual fates of all these plastic rectangles, but anecdotal evidence suggests that a large number are given to teachers, who end up using at least some of them as bookmarks.
These gifts from grateful (or at least peer-pressured) students and parents are no doubt a welcome improvement over an umpteenth additional “World’s Best Teacher” mug. Still, educators who find themselves short on cash and flush with more credit than they can use at a chain restaurant, bookstore, or other shop can sell or trade their cards on the Web sites listed below. Each requires free registration.
By the way, you needn’t feel guilty as you hawk these holiday presents; gift cards may be convenient, but they’re also highly impersonal. Selling those coffee mugs—now that’s another story.
This site will buy cards from a list of more than 100 stores and restaurants for 60 percent to 80 percent of the face value and send a check within 10 days of receiving your cards.
For $3.99 each, you can list cards for sale or trade, and decide what you’re willing to accept. Cards from “preferred merchants” such as Target, Best Buy, and Starbucks can be sold immediately for 60 percent to 75 percent of the face value using the “cash now” option.
Cardavenue gives users the option of auctioning gift cards for cash or trading them for cards of equal value. The site charges about 4 percent of each sale or trade, plus 50 cents for processing.
Listing cards for sale is free on this Web site, which charges 7.5 percent of the sale price once you find a buyer.
A version of this article appeared in the January 01, 2007 edition of Teacher as Cashing Out