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What to do with gift cards you don’t want

How to use that Trader Joe’s gift card you (regrettably) can’t use because you don’t have a store nearby

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A variety of retail store gift cards sare seen on a kiosk at a store in Santa Clara, Calif.

A variety of retail store gift cards sare seen on a kiosk at a store in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008.

Tony Avelar, Associated Press

Most of us have that one family member or friend whose go-to gift each Christmas is a gift card. While they may sometimes seem like artifacts of holidays past, gift cards can still make great gifts, but what do you do with gift cards you won’t use?

Instead of stockpiling vouchers you know you won’t use but can’t just throw away, here are a few ways to put them to good use this holiday season:

  1. Re-gift them. Sure, re-gifting is often given the judgmental side-eye but hear me out. This is probably the easiest way to give someone a gift you’re sure they’ll use. Because it’s a generic gift that’s meant to allow the receiver to buy something they actually want, this is the perfect way to ensure the gift card gets used and be the least wasteful you can. Just make sure that it doesn’t end up going back to the person that gave it to you.
  2. Donate them. Certain gift cards, especially those to grocery stores and clothing stores, would be more appreciated by someone in need than the contents of your miscellaneous dresser drawer. You could donate the gift card itself to a local homeless shelter, women’s shelter or urban center, per Gift Card Partners. There’s also the option of giving it straight to someone in need.
  3. Use them to buy gifts for others. I’ve heard from countless people in my life that gift cards don’t always feel like adequate gifts (despite the fact that many of us financially challenged people might disagree). In the instance that you feel similarly, you can use the gift card(s) to buy gifts for people this holiday season. Your friends and family may enjoy the vendors more than you, and you can take advantage of that.
  4. Exchange/sell them with others. Some people might actually want to use that gift card you’ve had sitting around as a gift themselves. You could sell them the gift card or swap yours for one of theirs. This option guarantees that you get something out of the swap/sale, so it may be a good strategy if you are hoping to gain anything. You can also use gift card exchange websites like CardCash to sell or exchange your gift cards.