Gift Card Swapping Sites Can Help You Save and Splurge

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By Mel Bondar

One of the easiest ways for frequent shoppers to increase their savings is to pick up discount gift cards at gift card swapping websites. It's not uncommon for well meaning family members, friends and coworkers to give you a gift card to somewhere you have no intention of ever shopping. Sure, you could re-gift that sucker (which really isn't a bad idea) or you could sell it on one of these sites.

The Latte Factor

When you list a gift card on a site, you usually select the amount you want to sell it for. I am a Starbucks addict. Like any good personal finance guru in training, I keep my addiction in check, but I also look for creative ways to get my caffeine fix at a discount.

Since I know I'm going to be a repeat customer, I buy Starbucks cards in $100 increments from the gift card swapping sites anytime I can find them discounted at least 15 percent. I wait for weekends when Raise has its additional 5 percent off sale, and then I load it onto my Starbucks rewards card, which gets me a free coffee for every 12 stars that I earn. My roughly $75 investment usually yields about 21 coffees and lasts me about four months. That's not that bad, especially when you consider how much I enjoy it.

All it really required was knowing my shopping habits, five minutes to sign up with a gift card site, five minutes to sign up with Starbucks rewards and, finally, the effort it takes to remember to watch out for Raise's extra 5 percent sale when my balance gets down to around $25.

Where to Buy and Sell

Some sites also allow you to swap one type of gift card for another without losing any value on the swap -- Dunkin' Donuts for Starbucks, for example, depending on your preferences. Here are five of my favorite sites for picking up discounted gift cards or making a few bucks with your own rejects:

  • Raise is really easy to navigate and often has sales sponsored by the site that can be layered on top of the already discounted gift cards.

  • Gift Card Granny has a section called Flash Deals that has extra discounted cards that are in short supply, pooled from all of the discount gift card sellers online.

  • Cardpool has a cool wish list section that lets you collect the cards you'd like and share with friends and family, great for holidays and birthdays.

  • Giftcard Zen has a nice, large collection of gift cards that infrequently runs out of the larger, more popular stores.

  • Card Cash touts it 45-day balance guarantee, so if you have any issues with your purchased card, it will cover it. It also has background checks for card sellers.

Since most of these sites have both physical and electronic gift cards, you can often find great, fast deals for impromptu gifts. Combining gift card websites with brand loyalty programs is one of the easiest ways to rack up big rewards fast with minimal effort.

Mel Bondar blogs at BrokeGirlRich, where she explores topics including how not to totally panic over adulthood, working in the arts and retirement strategies that don't involve living in a cardboard box under an overpass.