How To Maximize Unused Gift Cards During Times of High Inflation

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Although the latest data shows us that inflation has cooled off a little, Americans are undoubtedly feeling cash-strapped and unsure of what the economy will look like in the coming months.

If you’re feeling the strain on your wallet these days, you’re not alone. In fact, your wallet can actually be a good place to start looking for some extra spending money – that is, in the form of unused gift cards.

According to a new study by CreditCards.com, nearly half (47%) of adults have at least one unused gift card, coupon, or credit in their possession — it’s also a significant amount of forgotten cash, which is at their disposal, averaging $175 of unredeemed gift cards per person.

If you haven’t used a gift card as it was originally intended to be spent, the next best use is to exchange it for some cash. At the very least, it can bring a little windfall that you weren’t expecting and help cover daily necessities while prices are still high.

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Maximize your forgotten gift card cash

Before redeeming a gift card, be sure to check the balance. You can do this by visiting websites like GiftCardMall.com or GiftCardGranny.com, or by simply calling the phone number on the back of your gift card.

Once you know the credit, you can redeem it. Note that gift card resale sites typically take a percentage of the card’s original value, while resale value generally ranges from under 70% to over 90%.

Some of the most popular online card exchange marketplaces for redeeming unredeemed gift cards are:

You might also want to do some homework beforehand to see how valuable your gift card is. For example, WalletHub found that the average resale value for a $100 gift card was highest among Visa, American Express, and MasterCard gift cards — the highest resale values ​​for retail gift cards were American Airlines, Costco, eBay, the Apple Store, and Ikea .

If you only have a small amount of credit left, remember that states also have certain gift card laws that allow gift cardholders with an outstanding balance below a certain amount—say, $10—to exchange them for cash redeem the actual dealer.

Don’t forget to maximize cash back credit cards

While you probably rely more on the credit card in your wallet than a long-forgotten gift card, it’s worth noting that these can also help stretch your money further, especially during times of high inflation.

A cash-back credit card can also give you a portion of your spending back. A flat rate card like the Citi® Double Cash Card offers cardholders 2% cashback – that’s 1% on all eligible purchases plus an additional 1% once your credit card bill is paid.

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Citi® Double Cash Card

  • Reward

    2% Cashback: 1% on all qualifying purchases and an additional 1% after paying your credit card bill

  • welcome bonus

    For a limited time, earn $200 cashback after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.

  • Annual fee

  • Introduction APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

  • transfer fee

    Prepaid transfers made within 4 months of account opening will incur a prepaid transfer fee of 3% of each transfer ($5 minimum). After that, a transfer fee of 5% of each transfer (minimum $5) will apply

  • foreign transaction fee

  • credit required

A category-based spending card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers cardholders 5% cashback on travel-related expenses booked directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal, 3% cashback when you use the card at drugstores or restaurants (including takeout or certain delivery services) and 1.5% back for all other purchases.

Follow Freedom Unlimited®

  • Reward

    Enjoy 5% cashback on trips purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that allows you to redeem rewards for cashback, trips, gift cards and more; 3% cashback on drugstore and restaurant dining purchases, including takeout and eligible home delivery, and 1.5% on all other purchases

  • welcome bonus

    Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cashback. That’s 6.5% on trips purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on restaurants and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.

  • Annual fee

  • Introduction APR

    0% for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

  • transfer fee

    Initiation fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, for transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • foreign transaction fee

  • credit required

Editorial note: Any opinion, analysis, review, or recommendation expressed in this article is solely that of Select’s editors and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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