The New Gift Card Market: Buy, Sell or Trade

Chances are that most people either have or will receive a gift card this holiday season and some may not want that particular card or will spend only a fraction of the total. Instead of putting them away in some drawer to be forgotten, a secondary online market is available where owners may now buy, sell or trade those cards.

Buying cards on websites can not only bring cash or savings on some card purchases, but it can also provide retailer cards that may not be in the area, but that are in the area of someone for whom a gift is needed, like a $100 Bloomingdale card offered for sale for the best bid on one of the sites.

Online venues, such as the familiar Ebay.com, offer thousands of cards for anything from food to books. Buying a card online can bring not only potential savings on buying a card, but it also provides the chance to swap a card for one from a preferred retailer.

"Money is money," notes Bob Butler, president and CEO of www.cardavenue.com. and people often fail to think of the cards as money. "The millions of unused gift cards represent an enormous economic opportunity for retailers," who do not make a profit until the cards are spent. Retailers also profit because 60 percent of customers who go in to redeem a gift card spend more than the card's value. The site has free registration, but the seller pays 3.95 percent of the closing price, plus a 50 cent closing fee. If a trade is made, all persons involved will be charged those amounts. The site averages 5,000 cards a month.

Another site, www.Swapagift.com, charges $3.99 to list, regardless of the amount of the card. "Sellers can turn their gift cards into cash," says Michael Kelly, president and Chief Operating Officer (COO). "Swappers can trade them for cards they really want," according to US News and World Report. The most popular gift cards are Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target, commented co-founder Mary Jane Kelly, on a Business Week Morning Talker interview. The site, which was founded in 2003, has around 800 merchants listed.

These and many other sites are available online. Terms and fees may vary, according to the company.

When all the hustle and rush gets to be too much, a website by Money Management International may be just the lift needed. The site www.regiftable.com provides a place to read or share experiences, both funny and trying and perhaps vent a little stress before tackling the gift for that next name on the list.

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