It is the time of they year when you may have to face the tough decision: what to do with all the gift cards you received for Christmas? The first option is obviously to try to use them at the store. That doesn't always work though. Some merchants are simply not very bargain hunter friendly.
So what should you do? You type "sell swap gift card" in Google and see what comes back. This is how I find answers to many of my questions anyway. Well, not too good this time. I get a lot of web sites that claim to do the trick for me but when it comes to actually checking them out I realize that some like this and this are stale domains that don't seem to actually do anything. Try browsing their gift card offerings and see it for yourself.
So what options do you have besides going out to the street and stalking people? Let me go over three websites that seem to actually be able to help you solve the problem and compare them one to another. Which one should you use? I hope you will have the answer when you are done reading this.
It doesn't cost anything to buy a card from Cardavenue. To sell your card you set up an open auction (similar to Ebay) with a minimum bid price. The available listing durations are 3, 5, 7, and 14 days. Cardavenue charges the seller 3.95% of the auction closing price, plus a .50 cent closing fee. The same fee applies if you trade your card. To trade your gift card you set up a trade wallet (a list of your cards), a trade wish list (a list of cards you will accept as a trade for yours) and then wait for the offers to start coming in. Cardavenue will do the matching for you and will notify you by email when one is available.
All buyers, sellers and traders are required to have a PayPal account. If the card is not sold -- you can re-list it for free. The fee is charged only after your card is actually sold or traded for.
Just as Cardavenue, Swapagift doesn't charge the buyers. As far as selling your cards goes Swapagift acts more like a classified ad publisher (as opposite to Cardvenue which sells via auctions). To list a card Swapagift charges a flat fee of $3.99 - regardless of the gift card value. Your listing is active for 90 days. If you have not sold it or swapped at the end of 90 days, you can re-list for an additional 60 days for free. Maximum card balance that can be listed is $500. No more than 2 active card listings allowed at the same time.
If you want to trade your card and are not comfortable with mailing it directly to the other party you can use Swapagift as a proxy (or broker). The service costs $4 to $10 depending on the value of your card. Both parties will mail the gift cards to Swapagift. Swapagift will wait for both cards to arrive, verify the balance and mail the gift card to the appropriate party.
Unlike Cardavenue Swapagift leaves it up to the seller and buyer to decide on the terms of payment once the card is sold. If you sell or trade you still need a Paypal account to pay Swapagift fees.
I am listing Certificateswap the last due to the enormous amount of flashy ads they have on the web site. This almost makes it impossible to use the service. If you are immune to those (or if you have a good ad blocker :-) ) then read on.
Listing a gift card with Certificateswap is free. The listing will stay open until it either sells, or you remove it. When the card does sell a 7.5% processing fee based on the final sale price will be subtracted from the amount credited to your account.
This sounds pretty dumn easy. You don't have to pay a penny to sell your card! The easiness however comes at a cost. Since Certificateswap acts as your banker they try to prevent spam listings by collecting a credit card information from you when you list your first gift card. The credit card will be charged a small amount that you need to verify. This does slow things a bit. My online credit card statements lag by a day or two so I would have to wait till the transaction clears through the bank.
After you sell your gift card you have two options: use the funds to buy another gift card or cash out by Paypal or Check. You can only cash out if your balance is $25 or more. A processing fee ($2) will be conveniently charged if you do decide to get your money.
What good is a site if it doesn't have community behind it who will buy your cards or who you can buy cards from. My quick search for gift cards offered at Department Stores category fetched 32 listings at Cardavenue and 11 listings at Swapagift. Electronics fetched 30 at Cardavenue and 15 at Swapagift. Certificateswap doesn't allow me to browse gift cards by category but looking at individual stores it seems that they have at least as many (or more) listings as Cardavenue.
Alexa and back links analysis tells that Certificateswap is leading the pack by popularity followed by Cardavenue and Swapagift. The difference in numbers is not that huge though.
As I already mentioned Certificateswap is flooded with ads and these basically kill the deal for me. Besides to that they lack some options that the other two web sites offer. For example you cannot swap cards (just buy or sell). Browsing cards is also not as convenient as with the other two web sites. I personally like Cardavenue the most however Swapagift is not that far away.
All three web sites offer the same kind of service however they seem to be doing it in completely different way. Depending on your needs and preferences you should pick one. For example if your card is for $100 or more you might want to consider Swapagift since they charge a fixed listing fee as opposite to a percentage at the other two web sites.
Certificateswap seems to be the most popular among the three however they have highest fees and require a verification before you start selling your gift cards. The tons of ads they have on the pages is another factor to consider.
I like the proxy (broker) feature that Swapagift offers so if your concern is the smoothness of the sale/swap transaction this may be a deal breaker for you. On the other hand I like the seller rating system that Cardavenue and Certificateswap offer which partially compensates the lack of a proxy.
The bottom line is: do your math and make the best decision for you. I hope this blog post will help you in the process.
Update 12/05: I have just discovered another blog post with even more Gift Card related ideas. Take a look at it here.