What to do with gift cards with small balances

If you love to shop, there are few things as sweet as a valuable gift card with a large sum on it. It brings a certain amount of satisfaction knowing that you’re buying items without using your own cash — but what do you do with gift cards with small balances? In many cases, we just discard them or forget about them.

Don’t let that money go to waste! Retail marketing firms say about $1 billion in gift cards go unredeemed every year. Retail experts say as much as 24% of gift cards go unused annually. So, if you usually cast a low-sum gift card aside, it’s clear that you’re not alone. But the thing is, there’s plenty you can do with $1 and even $2.

How to use those gift cards with small balances

First off, remember that the only way to have a big sum of money is to accumulate the little amounts. The U.S. Treasury loses $600,000 a year in pennies. Wouldn’t you like to have that? It’s the same with gift cards. Here’s how to make even the little amount ones count:

  • Create your own custom Amazon gift card: Because Amazon gift cards can be in really low amounts, you can gift yourself small balances that can come in handy when shopping on the site. While other retailers offer similar gift card options, let’s face it: Amazon has plenty of items for $2 or less.
  • Sell your gift cards: If you want to save yourself the time it takes to drive to the store, you can sell your gift cards online. CardCash.com is just one of many sites that let you buy and sell your leftover gift cards.
  • Get cash money (in California): If you live in California or are out there visiting, a state law allows you to cash out your gift card even if it’s less than $10. Check out these gift card laws state by state.

How to make that expired gift card redeemable

Expired gift card? Try this: One time I found an expired $25 gift card to a popular restaurant. I promptly called the eatery, spoke to the manager and voila! I was back in business. It takes just a moment for you to call the establishment and see if they will honor your old gift card, and in some cases, they’ll even issue a new one. You’ll be surprised by how many businesses will accommodate you.

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