PITTSBURGH — A allowance agenda can be the absolute gift. Except aback it’s not.
Let’s say your acceptable out-of-town aunt sends you a $100 allowance agenda for your altogether acceptable at AMC theaters. Too bad the amphitheater alternation in your adjacency is a Cinemark.
Or maybe your clueless accessory bought you a $50 agenda to PetSmart, apathy that your Doberman, Cuddles, had anesthetized away.
Instead of casting those rejects in a clutter drawer or re-gifting them, a growing cardinal of consumers are application online allowance agenda exchanges to barter their bare cards for cash. At the aforementioned time, adeptness shoppers are acrimonious up those castoffs at a abatement — in aspect devising their own way to get markdowns on appurtenances they buy.
An estimated $500 actor to $700 actor annual of allowance cards went bare aftermost year, according to CEB TowerGroup in Arlington, Va. That’s bottomward from aing to $7 billion in 2008 afore regulators alone abundant clutter fees and continued cessation dates to a minimum of bristles years.
“I use exchanges primarily to buy cards because I acquisition it’s an accessible way to save,” said Kyle Taylor, architect of The Penny Hoarder in St. Petersburg, Fla., a blog committed to offbeat means to accomplish and save money. “I’m extenuative alike afore application any coupons.”
Taylor has acclimated exchanges to advertise a brace of exceptionable cards and to buy about 50 of them over the aftermost few years.
“I bought a home aftermost year and bare a washer, dryer and fridge,” he said. “I bought Lowe’s cards and ample them with coupons. I was able to save a ton.”
Taylor said he’s never had any problems application exchanges or been dissatisfied.
Still, there are risks, so it helps to apperceive how the exchanges assignment afore coast in.
First, sellers shouldn’t apprehend to get paid abounding price.
Prices are set based on accumulation and demand, additional exchanges booty a cut. Sellers blazon in the allowance agenda number, PIN and card’s value, again accelerate in the agenda and get paid through PayPal, via check, absolute drop or alike accession allowance card. Added sites annual cards from sellers who get paid alone if the agenda is sold.
Cards from big-name retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot will aback the best banknote for sellers, sometimes as abundant as 95 percent of the balance, Taylor said. Cards from bottom known, bounded food ability be annual alone 70 percent to 80 percent of their value.
On the cast side, buyers will acquisition the bigger bargains on cards from smaller, beneath accepted stores.
At Cardcash.com, for example, American Eagle Outfitters allowance cards were afresh activity for 30 percent off (a $200 agenda was affairs for $140), while Best Buy cards were actuality apparent bottomward by alone 2 percent to 4 percent.
Taylor recommends application a listings aggregator, such as GiftCardGranny.com, which makes it accessible to analyze offerings from abundant exchanges. Allowance Agenda Granny gets paid for referrals and “has a history of presenting acclaimed sites,” he said.
He additionally recommends that buyers analysis the antithesis on a agenda as anon as they accept it.
Reputable sites will verify the antithesis of allowance cards afore affairs them and action a money-back agreement or backup if the bulk isn’t as promised, according to the Retail Allowance Agenda Affiliation in Washington, D.C. In addition, the best sites won’t booty continued to pay sellers and they action tracking to advice assure sellers if payments are lost.
The affiliation has been alive with several “higher end, reputable” exchanges, including Raise.com and Cardpool.com, on a set of best practices for exchanges to chase to advice assure consumers, said Timm Walsh, administrator of the association.
The affiliation is anxious with allowance retailers assure their brands from thieves, he said. The accumulation hopes to accept the best practices guidelines accessible in time for the active anniversary arcade division this year.
He said abeyant problems with allowance agenda exchanges are agnate to risks associated with added buzz markets.
“When you buy article used, you achievement aback you go to bung it in, it works,” Walsh said.
“In a lot of cases, consumers don’t accept that if I advertise a card, I still accept the keys to booty the annual and PIN and still redeem it afore the being who bought it redeems it.”
Ticket exchanges for concerts and able antic contest accept developed means over abounding years to advice assure buyers and sellers, he said, but the allowance agenda barter industry “is still developing and evolving.”
“It’s like aggregate else, the bigger ones will advance and the others will go by the wayside,” he said.
“If you don’t appetite to accept the catechism in the aback of your mind, ‘Will it work?’ again your best bet still is to buy anon from the retailer.”
For added tips on application allowance agenda exchanges, appointment www.thergca.org.
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