Spend or swap your gift cards

Charlotte, NC (WBTV) -  As we put away the decorations from the holidays it's time to think about what you will do with those gift cards you received.  The new Credit Card Act works in your favor when it comes to gift cards.  They can no longer expire before five years, so there is no rush.  And any fees associated with waiting to spend them, well those fees have to be clearly explained on the card, or its packaging.

But what if you know you will never spend that gift card?  You aren't alone.  The numbers are astonishing.  According to some estimates two thirds of last year's gift cards were never redeemed.  At that rate, retailers are making a fortune and we are on the losing end.

Several web sites can now change those statistics and change those unused gift cards into cash in your wallet.  Sites like Plasticjungle.com let you redeem your gift card for cash, for amazon.com gift cards, or let you donate the gift card to charity.

Of course with anything like this there is a downside for you and an upside for the company taking that card off your hands.  The companies will not give you the face value of your gift card.  They are in it to make money.  After you choose how you want to get paid, you then enter the amount of your gift card, and see what the company is willing to give you.  We entered 100 dollars for a Macy's card and were offered 82 dollars cash for it.  So keep in mind, there is a loss on your end.  But it's better than the plastic sitting in your wallet unused.

One expert recommends you spread the word with friends.  Perhaps there is someone in your family who shops at the store but you don't.  There is a chance you could make an even trade.

So dig down in that wallet, look through the kids Christmas cards and make sure your gift cards get used, no need in letting them go to waste.


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