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Gift cards are one of the most used currencies in online shops across the US. The popularity of gift cards makes it easier for people to find great bargains and buy almost any gift card for less than its face value, but it also makes it easier for scammers to rip off those who are looking to save with discounted gift cards.
Fact: Some cards are almost always sold (and re-sold) for their face value. A Walmart gift card is a great example of such a card. Those who aren’t aware of this fact and try to get this gift card for less make an easy target for scammers and can be easily ripped off.
Examples of these can be found on Craigslist. While this is a good place to find discounted gift cards, some people come there with unrealistic hopes. Unless you come across some who is really in dire need of cash, this instant, there is no logical reason that anyone will sell you a Walmart gift card at 35% or even 30% off.
The first tip that will help you avoid getting ripped off is a cliché (but a good one): “If it’s too good to be true, then it usually is”. Don’t look for unrealistic bargains. There is almost no reason why someone would give your their card for 30% off when they can sell it to gift card exchange sites or via eBay, for almost 100% of its value.
You can get a gift card for less using these platforms:
- CardPool – Cardpool is another service that handles both selling and buying of unused gift cards. With more popular cards you can expect to save about 5% of the card’s value. With less popular cards, the savings can be even 35% off.
- Additional gift card exchange sites such as: Sites like Gift Card Granny and Swap a gift are also worth a look. Keep in mind that different sites have a different supply of gift cards, and you can save by comparing the deal that you are being offered. One site can be offering the same gift card for less than another site.
Online auction and classified ads sites:
- eBay – There are many sellers that offer gift cards in both “auction” and “buy it now” formats. Some are a full business while others are simply trying to get rid of a gift card that they have no use for.
- Craigslist – You can post a listing that you are looking for a certain gift card (don’t forget to mention how much you are willing to pay) or you can look at current, relevant ads posted by people in your area
Known scams that you should watch out for include:
- Free gift cards scam– You probably know these ads by now: “Get a free $100 gift card to Burger King”. While this is not a complete scam, in most cases (meaning you will get your gift card eventually), chances are that you will need
- “Sign up, become a member of the X club and get a free gift card” scam – Some club memberships do give out free gift cards for new members, but when it’s legit, the cost of the membership is usually much greater than the cost of the gift card that you will be receiving. However, some membership clubs advertise a free trial membership and a gift card for those who sign up. In this case, you better run a quick online search and read any online reviews that were posted on this membership club. In many cases, you either get your gift card but only after you are charged for the membership, or you don’t get your gift card at all. The good thing is that you can usually find online reviews that will warn you before you try to get a gift card for less this way.
- Scammers who post discounted gift card listings – While there are many honest sellers looking to sell their unwanted gift card online, some are looking to rip you off. The way to do this is to sell you their gift card, and after you have verified the remaining balance and paid them, to go ahead and use the card’s PIN number to make an online purchase themselves. The best way to avoid this is by using online sites that have a buyer protection policy (like eBay) and a buyer/seller rating system where you can check the latest feedback the seller has received.
A recommended way to avoid these scams is by only buying gift cards from reliable sites that have ample positive reviews from happy customers and a long track record of dealing with customers.