Churning merchant gift cards

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Buying and selling discount gift cards is a good option if you are looking to increase credit card spending in order to qualify for sign-up bonuses, gain bonus miles or elite status from high spend, or simply to earn credit card rewards (cash back, miles, points, etc.).  In the post “Top 20 best value gift cards” I showed that it is sometimes possible to buy gift cards for the same price or less than you can sell them.  A big advantage of merchant gift cards for buying and selling is that they are usually sold with no shipping or handling costs and with no sales tax.  By wisely buying and selling gift cards it is possible to drive up spending on your credit cards and get most, if not all, of your money back for paying off the bills.

My first stop is always GiftCardGranny.com which maintains up to date buy and sell prices for a number of gift card resellers.  Through careful scouting of this site, it is possible to find cards that you can sell for about the same price as you will buy.

Below are my experiences with buying and selling discount gift cards from several online gift card resellers:

PlasticJungle

PlasticJungle is probably the best known gift card re-seller.  I haven’t yet bought any cards from PlasticJungle, but I did sell one without any problem.  They provided a shipping label which I printed and affixed to a regular letter sized envelope.  I mailed the gift card and received a check in about a week.  If you’re thinking of buying from them, consider going through FatWallet to get an extra 1% cash back from your transaction.  Also note that, while I had no problems, a few readers have complained in the past about issues dealing with PlasticJungle.  There is a reasonable chance that these issues were due to growing pains.  Hopefully they have things running smoothly now.

CardPool.com

Through CardPool.com I ordered a $99.00 Home Depot electronic gift card for $89.89 (9.2% off face value).  After they called me to check my identity, I received the gift card via email.  They told me that the phone call was only needed for my first order.  Overall, the process was simple, fast, and painless.

I also sold a gift card to CardPool.  Like PlasticJungle, CardPool paid for postage and I received a check promptly.  In both cases (buying and selling), I first went through the ShopAtHome cash-back portal.  ShopAtHome offers .8% cash back when you buy gift cards from CardPool.com and 1.6% cash back when you sell gift cards to CardPool.com.  In both cases, cash back appeared as pending within a few days.  The amazing thing was that the cash back percentages turned out to be percentages of the gift card’s face value, not the transaction amount!

GiftCards.com

One of the neat things about GiftCards.com is that if your gift card has a PIN, you can sell them the gift card electronically by entering the gift card # and PIN into their website.  There is no need to mail anything!  The best part is that GiftCards.com doesn’t lower the sale price when you sell to them electronically as some other resellers do.  So, in the same day that I bought a Home Depot e-gift card from CardPool.com, I was able to sell it to GiftCards.com!  By going through the cash back portal, MyDealsAndCoupons, I was able to get 3.2% cash back on the sale of the gift card!  Just like with ShopAtHome, the cash back was a percentage of the gift card’s face value, not the transaction amount.  Much like PlasticJungle and CardPool.com, with GiftCards.com I received a check in about a week.

EBay

Buying and selling gift cards on EBay is very different than with the companies listed above.  When selling on EBay, you need to factor in EBay’s pretty hefty seller fees (EBay + Paypal fees come to about 11.75%) and you do need to pay for shipping or pass along that cost to the purchaser.  I sold one gift card on EBay and it went OK.  I managed to get a bit more for the card than I would have through a gift card reseller, but it was definitely quite a bit more hassle. 

I’ve also bought a few gift cards on EBay.  There are several advantages to buying gift cards on EBay over other gift card resellers: 1) You can pay with an EBay gift card and it is often possible to get points or cash back for purchasing EBay gift cards; 2) You can sometimes get better discounts than from other resellers; 3) You get 2% back in the form of EBay bucks; and 4) You can use EBay bucks to pay for gift cards.  On the other hand, there are serious downsides: 1) You never know if the seller is honest (see Washing Walmart); and 2) It can take a very long time for gift cards to be shipped and delivered. 

So far I’ve been lucky, and my EBay experiences have been fine.  I’ll continue to buy gift cards on EBay because of the significant benefits, but I’ll stay away from selling due to the extra hassle. 

Please share

Do you have gift card buying or selling experience? What has worked well for you and where have things gone wrong?  Please share your experiences in the comments below.


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