What to do with unwanted or useless gift cards

DENVER — As retailers such as Toys R Us go out of business it leaves many shoppers wondering what to do with their gift cards to those stores.

Although there’s no true solution, you do have a few options to choose from to get the most out of your gift card balances.

Use your gift card as soon as possible

The easiest solution would be to use your gift card as soon as possible. In the case of Toys R Us, the retailer warned shoppers they would have until April 15 to redeem the cards.

“I always advise using gift cards as soon as possible because the longer you hold onto a card, the higher probability you will lose the card or simply forget to use it,” said Shelley Hunter, a gift card expert at GiftCards.com.

“When a store files for bankruptcy, the urgency is even greater.”

Sell it for cash

Regardless of the retailer, you have the option to sell your gift card for cash.

Bed Bath & Beyond has a “card cash” program where it will take another retailer’s gift card of at least $20 at a discount and convert them into e-gift cards that can be used online.

If Bed Bath & Beyond isn’t your thing, Coinstar machines are able to take unused gift cards at its Coinstar Exchange kiosks.

There’s also other online options such as  Card CashCardpool and Raise. Just enter card details to get an offer.

Exchange for travel points

This wouldn’t be an option for retailers that are going bankrupt, but if you have a gift card you don’t want United Airlines will let you trade it in for miles.

The amount of miles will vary based on the amount, but here are the minimums for three popular amounts.

  • $25 gift card: minimum of 670 miles
  • $50 gift card: minimum of 1,330 miles
  • $100 gift card: minimum of 2,660 miles

Redeem through the court system

If the retailer such as Toys R Us is filing for bankruptcy, there is the possibility a bankruptcy judge will allow customers some limited-time redemption options.

This doesn’t happen for every retailer but specifics will often be found either on the retailers website or the website of the company hired to liquidate the assets of the company.

Gander Mountain offered customers this option when it filed for bankruptcy.