Turn bank gift cards into cash

I’ve written many posts showing how to earn points or cash back when buying bank gift cards (e.g. Visa, Mastercard, or Amex gift cards).  For some examples, see (“5X everywhere!,” “Turn your Amex into Visa and Save $,” and “Almost too good to be true”).  Buying gift cards can be a great way to earn extra points and to meet minimum spend requirements.  The problem is that even though these gift cards are like money, they cannot be deposited into your bank account, and cannot be used to pay your credit card bill.

Below I’ve listed some ideas for how to turn gift cards into cash.  Before using any gift cards online, be sure to register them with your home address.  Some gift cards only allow registration of your zip code.  In those cases, you’ll find that not all online options work.  With one such card, I was successful in using it to pay my State Farm insurance online, but I was unsuccessful in using it at Amazon.com or Walmart.com.

Spending

The best way to deal with bank gift cards is to spend them in daily use.  That way, you get 100% of their value.  Of course, using gift cards this way can be a big headache, but it is a reasonable option.  One good way to spend them is by paying your insurance bill.  I’ve done this successfully multiple times with State Farm.  Some people have also reported success in using $500 debit gift cards to pay taxes.

Amazon Payments

Amazon Payments is a service that allows you to send payments to friends and family members using credit cards.  You’re allowed to pay friends up to $1000 per month.  As long as you have a gift card that lets you register your full name and address, Amazon Payments should work.  Caution: do not send money back and forth between two people with this service.  Amazon Payments will shut you down if they see that pattern.

PayDivvy

This service is just like Amazon Payments but without the $1000 limit and without the “free” feature.  It costs 3.5% to send money using a credit card with this service, so factor that in if you’re thinking of doing this.  To try this out, I sent $193.24 to my wife.  With the 3.5% fee, the charge came to exactly $200.  This was just the right amount to liquidate a $200 Visa I had bought at OfficeMax.

Square

Square is a little device that attaches to your smart phone and allows you to swipe credit cards for payments.  Over night, the money paid by credit card is deposited into your linked bank account, less a 2.75% transaction fee.  In general this would be a great way to turn gift cards into cash, except for one little hitch: Square terms and conditions prohibit using their service for cash advances.  They will notice (and freeze your account) if you run too many gift cards, especially if the gift cards are registered to yourself!  I listed Square here for completeness, but I do not recommend using it for the purpose of cashing out gift cards.

Buying and Selling Stuff

Finding ways to profit from buying and selling can be a real struggle, especially since services like EBay and Amazon Marketplace take a pretty big percentage of each sale.  However, if you do figure out a way to do this profitably (or at least with minimal loss), it can be a good way to turn gift cards into cash.  One example of how I’ve done this successfully is when I found items on clearance at Kohl’s that cost less than the going rate on Amazon.com.  I used every trick in the book to save a lot more (and earn lots of points), and I bought several hundred dollars worth.  I then turned around and shipped the items to Amazon.com to be sold via their Fulfillment by Amazon service.  Amazon did take a big chunk of each sale, but I was still able to make a modest profit.

Buying and Selling Merchant Gift Cards

This can be tricky and fraught with danger, but the possibilities are certainly there for turning gift cards into cash by buying and selling merchant gift cards (e.g. Walmart cards, gas cards, etc.).  I’m in the process of running some experiments along these lines and I hope to report more soon.  In the meantime, take a look at “Gift cards: buy low, sell high, get cash back.”  Probably the easiest option for cashing in gift cards (but not the most profitable) is to buy high value merchant gift cards at face value, and then sell them by first going through a cash back portal.  By going through TopCashBack to an appropriate gift card reseller and selling gift cards from Target, Walmart, or several gas companies, you can get back as much as 96% of your money.  As, I said, it’s not a profitable route, but it’s pretty easy.

Micro Loans

Kiva.org is a micro loaning organization that allows loans to be funded by credit card.  You do not get paid interest on your loans, but you do help real people when loaning money.  Note that it can take many months to get your money back, but about 99% of all loans do get fully repaid.  For more information see “How to maximize points and virtue through Kiva loans”.

Other Ideas?

Please let me know if you have other strategies for cashing in gift cards.  I’ll keep this post updated as new ideas come along.


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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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D
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D

Are the Visa cards considered debit cards when doing purchases? If so, then this could work:

At RiteAid I noticed that the greendot moneypaks are fee-free through to the end of the year. One could use the visa card as a debit card to put money onto the moneypak, and then load up your Serve account from the greendot moneypak card. All of this would be fee-free. Once in your Serve account you can ACH the $ back into your account. Of course, all of this hinges on the prepaid Visa cards being treated as debit cards…

Grant Thomas
Guest
Grant Thomas

PayPal allows you to have a personal and premiere/business account so I used to enter the prepaid card in my personal account and pay the premiere account, the fees are roughly 2.9% per transaction plus 30 cents. Perfect for squeezing every last cent out of your cards.

rick
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rick

Many grocery stores and gas stations will sell money orders for under $0.75 per every $300.

noel
Guest
noel

I pay my rent through Amazon payments. So im wondering, what specific gift cards let you register your name and address and are axcepted by Amazon payments?

lovetofly
Guest
lovetofly

Paypal does not allow processing of visa, amex, or mastercard gift cards. Tried it on kiva a while back. I would love to be proved wrong. 5x on kiva would be beyond AMAZING!

Grant Thomas
Guest
Grant Thomas

For paypal, you need to register the card with the card company, with your name and address. You will probably have to call the number on the back of the card and talk to a rep about adding your info to the card.

lovetofly
Guest
lovetofly

@ grant.
Paypal doesn’t allow it despite it being registered. They are actually quite smart.

Grant Thomas
Guest
Grant Thomas

@ lovetofly, I just sent $100 to myself using a AMEX prepaid card: http://i50.tinypic.com/289vnld.png

77w
Guest
77w

I thought greendot money paks could only be purchased with cash or PIN capable debit cards. Has anyone successfully used a visa gift debit card without pin to buy a money pak?

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

This is something to add to the lab experiments..buy debit cards at Office Depot or Staples and try to use them to buy money orders at a gas station. If this works, it’ll be a great way to do mimimum spend requirements.

ArizonaGuy
Guest
ArizonaGuy

As usual, lots of places don’t provide for expiration dates beyond 2020. Yet many gift cards purchased today come with expiration dates of 2021 or 2022.

Kroozer
Guest
Kroozer

@lovetofly I have used Visa GC at Paypal successfully just yesterday. Purchased $500 Vanilla Visa at Office Depot, discovered that it allows only to register Zip code, not name or entire address. Tried purchasing Lowes GC at Cardpool and ABCGiftCards (which has a Paypal checkout option), but failed with “Address does not match” error. Googled a lot and found the solution.

Login to your paypal account, choose Add Card and register your Vanilla Visa as a payment method (same as a regular credit card with my own home address). Then went back to ABCGiftCards and added Lowes GC to shopping card, use Paypal checkout, but login to paypal and authorize payment using the desired payment method (recently added Vanilla Visa in this case). Success!

FrequentMiler
Guest

Kroozer: Great find! I can’t wait to try your Paypal trick

PH
Guest
PH

Kiva is a great place to use up smallish denomination Visa/MC gift cards such as is common for rebate fulfillment. For best karma, leave the money in Kiva, but at the least, run the money through one cycle of microloan before withdrawing the funds into PayPal.

lovetofly
Guest
lovetofly

@koozer @grant . Thank you guys. I must have been doing something wrong.
@frequentmiler… can you add that to your list of experiments please – use gift cards on kiva.

sam
Guest
sam

paypal trick is stupid, why? cos there is over 3% fee.
cmon people, don’t try to make a fake story!

Grant Thomas
Guest
Grant Thomas

Using Paypal is a good deal because you can buy the prepaid cards for 5% cash back with a Chase Ink Bold Business Card and then use Paypal to turn it back into cash at a 2.75% fee, then you can withdraw the money to your bank account and pay off your Chase bill 🙂

sam
Guest
sam

@ grant,

you think INK BOLD is the only card people got to meet spend reqs? btw, i applied for inkbold, chase UME and CITI aa biz 3 WEEKS AGO, met the spend req the whole 5k yesterday on ink bold. have done half on citi aa biz.

working to finish my wife’s BOA VIRGIN ATLANTIC, CITI THANK YOU, and CITI AA BIZ spend reqs.

Grant Thomas
Guest
Grant Thomas

Congrats Sam, enjoy those travel miles 🙂

Mike H
Guest
Mike H

A sorta related question – I paid for a $100 Home Depot card at Staples today using my Ink Bold. It is pending on the account as “Staples contract”. At the risk of over thinking, what does that even mean? Can Chase ID this as a gift card purchase from this info? Does it matter if they do? Staples is around the corner from Home Depot and I’m in the midst of a lot of serious remodeling. The obvious answer is for me to buy the card at Staples and then use it at HD, but I’m curious if Chase is picking up and if “Staples contract” means anything pertaining to this purchase.

Grant Thomas
Guest
Grant Thomas

If you buy pre paid cards with the ink bold card, it might be smart to buy in various amounts, instead only $500 + $5.95 fee. Like but it for $482, that way the charges look somewhat random instead of having 10 consecutive charges for $505.95.

Bradley Sanders
Guest
Bradley Sanders

Can I transfer the money from my Home Depot shopping card to the ink pre paid visa or MasterCard or and card

John
Guest
John

Go to home depot Saturday mornings with a few 40oz beers. You will see many mexicans outside about to buy lots of materials in cash. Offer to pay it for them in return for cash. Then give them beers. Win win

cheaplee
Guest
cheaplee

I think Paydivvy is WAAAAYYYY too expensive. There must be alternatives. I am currently searching for such. Has anyone tried Neteller.com. Their fees are much lower, but don’t know if they work with prepaids. At 1.75% for Visa and MasterCard, they are 1/2 as much as Paydivvy.

Moshe
Guest
Moshe

Does anyone know if Citi considers the amazon payments route to be a cash advance? I’m looking to meet minimum spending requirement on my citi AA cards.
Thanks!

FrequentMiler
Guest

Moshe: I believe it is fine to use Citi cards with amazon payments as long as you select “good ands services”

IrishTiger
Guest
IrishTiger

@D did anyone ever answer your question? My AMEX prepaid came with an incentive to use the MoneyPak and get the service fee credited back. I’m wondering where I can get away with using a Visa or Mastercard Gift Card…says my options are Walmart, cvs, Kmart, RiteAid, 7/11 and Walgreens…couldn’t find this discussion elsewhere.

Thanks!

LOULOUBELLE
Guest
LOULOUBELLE

You can use serve from AMEX to cash up on VISA gift cards. It would not work with Master Card. Don’t know if it works with AMEX gift cards. First, register the card and then fund your serve account with it. If you have a blue bird card it would not let you open a serve. Try opening a serve account on a family member with no bluebird account if you had left anyone out. Lol!

trackback

[…] spend: There are some tricks people use to convert gift cards to cash (for example, see “Turn bank gift cards into cash“), but with these techniques, there are often fees involved.  The 2.25% rebate can […]

Tyler
Guest
Tyler

How do you liquidate a gift card through paydivvy when the card does not have your name on it or a billing address? I bought the amex giftcards at 2.25% cash back to do this

Devon
Guest
Devon

Has anyone done this, never saw a reply: buy visa gift cards(debit cards) at Office Depot or Staples and try to use them to buy money orders at a gas station, post office, or walmart?

Dan Roy
Guest

Ukash4cash takes almost all e-wallets like Paypal or Skrill and sends you the money by Western Union in 30 minutes…worth a look

johnny
Guest

you’re one user was right go to grocery store and buy a money order then take that to a check cashing place and cash it. Dont fill out leave it blankonly cost a couple of dollarsand you will have cash in an instant