Skip to main content

If you are anything like me, you have unused gift cards gathering dust somewhere in your house.

There was the glass vase we received as a wedding present and promptly returned, the card that was supposed to go towards a Christmas gift of snowshoes, and the $50 gift card to a high-end spa where the least expensive treatment is $200.

I keep meaning to redeem these cards, but I never seem to get around to it. Come to think of it, I should have pulled some of those out before I did my back-to-school shopping.

Story continues below advertisement

At least I am not alone. Canadians spend an estimated $6-billion dollars a year on gift cards. Meanwhile, a U.S. consumer study found that 25 per cent of gift cards are never redeemed, either because they expire, have been lost or are damaged.

For retailers, that translates into money in the bank but for consumers, it is an irritating waste.

But there are options for people stuck with unwanted cards. They can visit Cardswap.ca or Giftah.ca, two Canadian-run websites that allow you to turn your unused or partially-used gift card into cash - or buy a card at a discount.

At Cardswap.ca, consumers simply enter the name of the merchant and value of the card to receive an instant cash offer. The amount of the offer depends on the popularity of the merchant as well as supply, demand and seasonality, but generally ranges from 65 to 90 per cent of the value of the card.

It's not the whole amount, but that sure beats having the cards sitting around in your house, right?

Since cardswap.ca resells the cards, after taking a part of the proceeds, people can also go to the site to buy a gift card. In addition, people can choose to donate the proceeds of the card to a Canadian charity.

Although gift cards are loved for their convenience, the Consumers' Association of Canada has been vocal in criticizing them. They say they receive many complaints about prepaid cards, which can have unexpected expiry dates, administrative fees and restrictions on cash-back services.

Story continues below advertisement

So as with all financial purchases, it recommends that consumers who are considering buying a gift card read the fine print. This also applies to cards you are looking to sell.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has this helpful list of ten things to consider before buying a prepaid card, including gift cards for retailers and prepaid cards from Visa, MasterCard or American Express.

In the meantime, I am going to put redeeming - or selling - that pile of old gift cards on my to-do list. And this time, I mean it.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies