How To Maximize Unused Gift Cards During Times of High Inflation

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Though the latest data shows us that inflation has cooled down a tiny bit, Americans are no doubt feeling cash-strapped and uncertain about what the economy will look like in the months ahead.

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

According to a new study from CreditCards.com, nearly half (47%) of adults have at least one unused gift card, voucher or store credit in their possession – it’s a considerable amount of forgotten cash just sitting at their disposal, too, with an average of $ 175 in unredeemed gift cards per person.

If you haven’t yet used a gift card the way it was originally intended to be spent, its next best use is trading it in for some cash. At the very least, it can provide a small windfall of cash you weren’t expecting and help cover the cost of everyday essentials while their prices are still high.

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Maximizing your forgotten gift card cash

Before you cash in a gift card, be sure to check the balance. You can do this by going through websites such as GiftCardMall.com or GiftCardGranny.com, or by simply calling the phone number on the back of your gift card.

Once you know the balance, you’re ready to cash it in. Note that gift card resale websites will typically take a percentage of the card’s original value, while resale values ​​generally range from below 70% to over 90%.

Some of the most popular online card exchange marketplaces for cashing in unredeemed gift cards include the following:

You may also want to do a little 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 value for retail gift cards included American Airlines, Costco, eBay, the Apple Store and Ikea.

If you just have a small remaining balance left over, keep in mind that states also have certain gift card laws that allow gift card holders with an outstanding balance under a certain amount – say, for example, $ 10 – to just redeem them for cash with the actual retailer.

Don’t forget about maximizing cash-back credit cards

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

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

Citi® Double Cash Card

  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

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

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

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

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    For balance transfers completed within 4 months of account opening, an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer ($ 5 minimum) applies; after that, a balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($ 5 minimum) applies

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

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

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Rewards

    Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

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

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

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

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    Intro fee of either $ 5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on 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 needed

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyzes, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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