Gift cards are usually a safe bet when you're stumped on what to get someone, but even a prepaid jaunt to the hottest retailer in town can sadly go unused. Too often they given and then quickly forgotten, discarded in the depths of your wallet, never to be swiped again. But it doesn't have to be that way. In an age where everything is seemingly going digital, so too are gift cards.
There are a bevy of sites and apps that specialize in taking your unwanted money to so-and-so store and letting you swap it for another vendor, sell it, or exchange it—and make back more than you got in the first place. Here are three we've got our eyes on:
If you're planning on cleaning out your closet for the new year, consider Listia your virtual personal assistant. The mobile marketplace specializes in decluttering by letting you exchange unwanted goods for electronic credits. All you need to do is log in and post your inventory, then, after selling your stock for digital earnings, you can browse through Listia's 100,000-plus listings and procure things you want while ridding yourself of the stuff you know you don't need. What's more, the app awards you 1,000 credits at the get-go, so your next holiday gift could be just a few swipes away. You know what they say, one person's trash...
If you're someone who prefers hard cash to yet another preloaded card, Cardpool is probably the site for you. The online service functions as a marketplace of buyers and sellers, and lets you sell the gift cards you've accumulated for straight cash or LevelUp credits, which you can redeem at any of LevelUp's hundreds of merchants through your iPhone. There's even the option to swap your gift cards for discounted e-cards from other retailers for up to 35 percent off. And if you're worried about acquiring a soon-to-be-expired piece of plastic, fear not: Cardpool only carries cards with no fees and no expiration date.
Head to cardpool.com to scoop up deals.
Raise lets customers bypass the shame of re-gifting by allowing them to sell their unwanted holiday gift cards and purchase the ones they want at a discount. What's especially handy is Raise's "digital wallet" feature, which keeps track of how much you spend and where you spend it, so you're not forced to tally up your financial activity the old fashioned way. It also digitizes your gift cards, turning them into electronic credits that can be redeemed through the app or at a store. So the next time you're at the Starbucks counter, make sure to raise the other wallet.
Download Raise for free on the iTunes app store.