Bye bye Plastic Jungle

Today, Plastic Jungle shut down their shop.  They sent an email to all of their customers announcing that they would no longer buy and sell discount gift cards directly from and to consumers.  Instead of doing business directly with consumers, Plastic Jungle will continue to offer gift card exchange services through their partners (United MileagePlus, FlexPerks, BestBuy, CVS, and Zeevex).  This means that, instead of selling your used gift cards to Plastic Jungle for cash, you can trade them in for miles or points instead. 

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Of course, if you want cash for your gift cards, there remain several other options.  Cardpool, GiftCards.com, and ABC Gift Cards are a few examples of services that currently compete with Plastic Jungle and will presumably continue to offer the services that Plastic Jungle is giving up.

Since I began blogging as Frequent Miler in September 2011, many deals I’ve written about have involved Plastic Jungle one way or another.  For example, on September 22 2011, I published “Buy American Airlines Miles for less than 1.6 cents each. No limit.”  In that post I showed how to effectively buy AA miles by buying Sears gift cards via the AAdvantage eShopping portal and then selling the gift cards to Plastic Jungle.  This was back when miles earned from any source counted towards AA lifetime status.

More recently, I wrote often about how to take advantage of TopCashBack’s 4% rebate for Plastic Jungle purchases and sales (which later dropped to 2.5%, then recently to 1%).  Thanks to that extra cash back, it was sometimes possible to buy discount gift cards from Plastic Jungle and to sell them back at a profit.  It wasn’t easy, though.  Plastic Jungle was able to detect if you tried to sell the same card back to them, so it was necessary to “launder” the gift card first by using it to buy a new gift card (stores like Walmart and Target allow this) before selling it back to Plastic Jungle. 

In case you’re interested, here is the text of the email that was sent out today from Plastic Jungle:

The team at Plastic Jungle would like to thank you for your participation in our gift card programs over the past seven years. Since 2006, Plastic Jungle has been a leader in providing you with great deals on gift cards in a secure marketplace.

 

As our business has grown and evolved, we have seen that the greatest potential for Plastic Jungle’s long-term success is in working directly with our business partners. As a result, we will no longer be buying and selling gift cards at www.plasticjungle.com. This change is taking place effective today.

With this transition, there are a few important things you should know. First, all orders currently being processed will be honored with the same guarantee of service and safety that we have upheld for seven years. Second, our website will be available to allow you to access your account and retrieve gift cards until November 1, 2013. Third, Plastic Jungle will continue to offer gift card exchange services to customers through our partners. Finally, our customer service desk will remain open during this period to answer inquiries and resolve any concerns. If you have any questions, we encourage you to visit our FAQs page or contact Plastic Jungle Customer Success at customersuccess@plasticjungle.com.

Thank you again for being an important part of the Plastic Jungle family over the past seven years. We appreciate all of your support as we begin this exciting new mission as a company.

All the best,
The Plastic Jungle Team

Comments

  1. Reading your blog brought me out of my chair in laughter…….their poor investors rue the day they saw you coming…………

  2. This is kind of sad… I used this method to meet a lot of min. spend on cards. I still remember the day I figured out how to make a little cash through buying a target ecard, using it to buy a new physical target card, and selling it back. I thought I was awesome. It must have been love, but it’s over now…How sad!

  3. Sad as they used to have good discounted rates for they cards – used to be the highest for some that i liked to buy. Oh well…hopefully discount rates don’t go down the drain now that cardpool seems to be the only decent one left. Never tried abc…

  4. I just began to bought gift cards about two months ago. Get $500 dollars AA GC at 10%OFF, Bought 300 Macys GC at 9.5%OFF on Sunday night. On Monday morning, the order was processed. On Monday evening, I saw the email….

    I felt pretty sad as it is the only GC buying site which, I think, could sent out GC in a few minutes. It usually takes Raise.com one biz day to send E-GC.

  5. Not surprised. High customer overhead, customers that cannot/don’t/won’t read instructions and terms and probably, too may very small transactions. And, dare I say it… a measurable degree of abuse by those who churn on a scheduled basis. Still, transfers to major program partners will continue – for a while.

  6. Buying any airline miles for 1.6 c each is silly – when you can churn as many as you want at 0.7c.

    I never found PJ worth using – always found better deals on other gc discount sites.

  7. Hopefully, customer service at ABC improves. I dealt with them once to check on cards I was selling and they were flat out rude on the phone to me. Guess they don’t like persistence?

    PJ was not much better. Their outsourced customer service was horrible, even for being a “trusted” buyer that I was.

  8. My first thought….”what is RomsDeals going to post about now?” (JK)

    FrequentMiler, thanks for the awesome site!

  9. As a big fan of gift card exchange websites, I’m sad to see them go. I’ve had a lot of luck with Plastic Jungle and Gift Card Rescue in the past. I will continue to use Gift Card Rescue for all my exchange needs. Their service is reliable and they offer great rates.

  10. I actually shed some tears about this. I was pretty new to travel hacking, and picked up a 75K deal for a MR Amex. I was actually doing a fairly high fee way of paying my mortgage with the Amex, when I stumbled across milers post of churning Ebay gift cards to Walmart and coming out ahead. It was flipping brilliant and I generate 6K spend doing it and actually made a couple bucks.

    Still has to be Miler’s single most convoluted, yet brilliant scheme…..and shortly thereafter ebay gift cards disappeared…..Yes it took effort, but is sure was worth it to me for 75K…..

  11. Are there any features for people churning that Plastic Jungle was missing? (Disclaimer: we compete with Plastic Jungle: Giftcard Zen)

    Right now we buy and sell gift cards, but if there are special features people would like we could build/offer them.

  12. I never could figure out how Plastic Jungle was making enough money to stay in business. Even if they were turning over their inventory quickly, they just didn’t have enough volume of cards available to make much money. Still, I enjoyed using them – except for the time I left $120 on a card for several months and went to redeem it and someone (probably the original owner) had used up the value. But, I take responsibility for that mistake – should have used it sooner.

    ABC Gift Cards are a pain. Website is buggy and once I bought $500 worth of cards and never got the cards. Took a half dozen phone calls to rude people to get the charge taken off my credit card. They “finally” admitted that they had “system problems” and agreed to refund my money. Never again.

  13. It’s sad to see PJ gone as a pioneer in the space. I think they were a bit too early in a market that was still emerging. However, like in any growth market, usually there is consolidation before it’s off the to races. I’m curious to see what happens in this space, especially with the growth it’s seen in recent years. I think customer service, turn around, technology and UI will be the big game changer here.

    So far, my favorite website for gift cards, selling gift cards, customer service and their entire experience is Raise.com – It’s par to non when looking at the competition. Cardpool is in no way innovative, ABC / CardCash looks like a website from the 90’s and the functionality is terrible. Raise on the other hand is a marketplace, so if you scalp you can get gift cards at really awesome prices. They have had the best discounts to date and sometimes you get really lucky from someone selling a gift card for real cheap. Because users sell to one another, you can really benefit from no flat discount percentage across the market.

    I recommend you all take a look at Raise, I’m sure they are a big reason they are putting people out of business like PJ (lightweight business model, no inventory).

    As for PJ, I wish them all the best of luck. They were the first gift card site I used and I hope whoever does buy them, keeps some parts of their business or expands on the mileage plus, best buy rewards and cvs points!

  14. @aaron

    I sure liked when plastic jungle began offering electronic redemption of Walmart gift cards….be sure to offer that as is cut out the step of sending them in and waiting for payment.

    Cardpool still does not offer this with Wal-mart without you sacrificing too much card value; I always end up mailing those in due to that.

  15. @THEsocalledfan Good call. We do this now for bulk sellers, but your comment is making me think maybe we could roll this out for regular sellers with a high enough trust level. Thanks for the idea.

  16. There is value in selling to PJ for UN. They price the miles starting with a minimum. A $100 GC gets 3,300miles, its $112 for 3k if you bought on UN website. If you bought a discounted GC from elsewhere you could leverage it through this.

    If you really wanted to…

  17. A lot of these sites will be going out of business after they lose more money in fraud. People that have stolen credit cards and use the cc to purchase gift cards and resell it. If you use a gc that was purchased by fradulant means the business (cabelas cvs etc) can go after you for the purchase price. Buyer beware

  18. just went to use two barnes and noble gift card codes I purchased from PJ earlier this year. THEY DRAINED THE CODES! I am so pissed off right now. They must have gone through all their ecodes before they closed shop and spent the money people didn’t spend yet. WOW.

    • I feel your pain Lisa……I keep a manufactured spend spreadsheet on my computer and I periodically look who has my money…………it does’t help you on this case but maybe in a future one……..Amazon, Google, Bluebird and PayPal are the only ones I trust to keep a balance and then try to move it within 30 days. good luck.

  19. Plastic Jungle was a rip-off…I spent $750 on gift cards and they drained them before they closed and never did refund my money.

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