Using gift cards is one of the fastest and safest ways to pay for your goods. It’s also a money-saving tactic that many frugal people would use. But what if someone gave you a gift card in the holiday season and you didn’t need it? Can you “convert” it to cash? Can you buy something with a gift card and return it for cash?
Gift cards are non-refundable by nature. The standard gift card policy forbids consumers from returning their gift cards for cash. Some stores would allow it in rare cases. The majority of stores will refuse returning goods purchased with a gift card, especially without a receipt.
The best you can do is return the goods and get the credit back to the gift card. There’s a lot of fine print when it comes to gift cards. If you want to understand how to benefit from your gift card in a language you can understand, this guide is for you.
Can You Buy Something With A Gift Card And Return It For Cash
Kmart was one of the most significant discount stores when it declared bankruptcy in 2002. The company issued many gift cards and charged a $2.10 “dormancy fee” per month for their gift cards. That means if you had a gift card and didn’t use it in 24 months, the company will charge you $2.10 every month.
It also meant that if you had a $50 Kmart gift card, then it’d be useless after 24 months. Kmart didn’t explain this policy on their card sufficiently. So, many consumers lost their money as their gift card balance reduced to zero.
In 2007, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) responded by placing more limits on Kmart. Ultimately, Kmart settled by agreeing to implement a refund program. Kmart is now history, but today retailers must be clear about their fees. They must print this information on the card or the package. Plus, the minimum dormancy fee starts after one year of inactivity.
So, gift cards are a special kind of prepaid debit cards that comes with some restrictions. In most cases, you can’t buy something with a gift card and return it for cash. But there are other ways you can put your gift card to use before it expires when you need the money.
Sell Or Exchange Your Gift Card Online
You can sell the gift card itself for near its value to third-party companies like Gameflip, CardSell, Prepaid2Cash, and GiftCash. Whatever you can get for your gift card is better than nothing, right?
If you don’t feel like it, make a post on Facebook or other social media. Explain the situation and offer it for sale. Your circle of friends and family might offer to buy or exchange it.
If they want to buy it, you can get the same or nearest face value. If your community wishes to exchange, you can get a gift card to buy things you actually want.
But before you try selling your gift card online, check the terms and conditions of the gift card issuer. Doing so will help you avoid breaking the law. As will be explained later, Target and Walmart prohibit selling their gift cards online.
Since the gift card issuer puts many hoops for returning purchased goods with a gift card, you may try to return the card itself. Most likely, you’ll need the receipt. The laws are different from state to state.
In some states, it’s possible to redeem gift cards and receive hard cash. The value must be between $5 and $10. Here’s a list of the states where you can legally return your gift card. All you need to do is go to the gift card issuer and request cash for the remaining balance:
- Washington: Less than $5.00
- Oregon: Less than $5.00
- California: Less than $10.00
- Montana: Less than $5.00
- Colorado: Less than $5.00
- Vermont: Less than $1.00
- Maine: Less than $5.00
- Massachusetts: After spending 90% of the balance
- Rhode Island: Less than $1.00
- New Jersey: Less than $5.00
As a last resort, you may want to use the card to buy something and offer it elsewhere. If you can buy something brand new and offer it for sale, you stand a good chance of selling it for a high price. Again, something is better than nothing.
Donate Your Gift Card
If you don’t feel like going through all that drama, perhaps you should get rid of it. You have two ways to get rid of your gift card without feeling guilty about it. In fact, you can feel good giving away your unused gift card.
First, you can donate it to your favorite charity or local church. They may have better use for it than you. That way, you serve the community and get some sense of relief.
Second, you can give it to a friend or family member who might have a use for it. In that case, you’ve technically given them a gift, and you wouldn’t need to worry about buying a gift for them later.
Can You Buy Something With A Gift Card And Return It For Cash At Target
According to Target’s help center, refunds will be the same payment method if you buy something with a Target GiftCard and return it. Target will issue a new gift card for you to use. The policy is clear. Pay in cash, and you’ll get a cash refund. Pay in gift card, and you’ll get a gift card refund.
You can still use your Giftcard in any store or online for your purchase. So, if it’s something you can’t find at one store, you can find it at another. And your gift card will still be valid.
If you got your Target gift card on or after 10/1/20, you can’t return or redeem it for cash except where required by law. If it’s after 10/1/20, you still can’t return or redeem eGiftcards. And if you already loaded it into your account, nobody else can use it except you.
In some cases, you can return or refund a physical Target gift card. All you need to do is visit the store and ask politely.
If you have something in mind that’s not covered here, call Target Giftcard experts at 800-544-2943. They can give you direct help.
Can You Buy Something With A Gift Card And Return It For Cash At Walmart
According to Walmart’s Gift Card Terms and Conditions, you can’t return or refund gift cards and eGift cards except in some states, so you might want to check the laws in your state. Furthermore, you can’t resell Walmart gift cards online. And you can’t use them for marketing or promotional on social media.
Your best bet is reselling purchased items instead of the gift card itself. So, use the gift card to buy something, then sell it online.
How To Request A Gift Card Refund
The gift card refund process depends on the retailer or issuer of the card, and it’s not always straightforward. The refund request follows two scenarios.
First, refund the card itself. That’s returning the card and getting your money back. If you purchased the card yourself, you must produce the receipt and the card. Of course, the card must be in the same condition as when you bought it. The store may refuse the refund if the card is scratched, damaged, or used.
You’ll either go to the store and ask the clerk there for a refund. Or go to the retailer website and send a request through email. Alternatively, you can call them and ask for the specific steps.
If you received the gift card from a friend and can’t get the receipt, it might be more challenging to get a refund. In that case, you might want to follow the steps above, like selling, exchanging, or using your card to buy something and then sell it.
Secondly, when you bought something and want to get a refund for the purchased item. In that case, you’ll also need the receipt of the purchased item. Unfortunately, you can’t get a refund for a gift card purchase. The store will know that you used a gift card through the gift card.
And they’ll either give you a new gift card with the same value or refund the money back to the gift card. In that case, the same steps will apply. Just go to the store with your gift card, the purchased item’s receipt, and the purchased item itself. And ask for a refund.
If you’re in doubt, it’s best to visit the website of the gift card issuer. Then, go to the live chat feature and chat with a sales rep. Or get the phone number and call them directly.
Can Money Be Refunded To A Gift Card
It’s very common to have buyer remorse after you buy something with your gift card. You feel bad about the purchase. Like, it wasn’t what you really needed. If you get through this feeling, there’s something to do about it. That’s why you need to keep your gift card even after you completed a purchase.
But be careful; you can’t always refund money to a gift card. Gift cards are a solution for buying specialized items and gifts. They don’t function like your regular Visa or Mastercard prepaid card.
Since there are many types of gift cards, here are the standard policies for the most common gift cards:
Refund To Amazon Gift Card
Amazon uses its gift cards in two ways. First, when they want to refund you. Say, you bought an item but didn’t like it and wanted a refund. In that case, Amazon will issue a gift card you can use to make another purchase.
If you purchased an Amazon gift card, you’d get a refund to your gift card balance.
Refund To eBay Gift Card
eBay gift cards are “not refundable or redeemable for cash or credit.” So, if you purchase something with an eBay gift card, you’re stuck with it.
Refund To eBay Gift Card
Play gift cards are not refundable. But you can still request a refund to your Google Play Balance as long as the amount is less than $10.
Refund To iTunes Gift Card
You can’t redeem Apple Store iTunes gift cards for cash or return them for a cash refund. But if someone bought you a gift and you wanted to return it, you can get an Apple Gift Card by just producing the gift receipt.
Refund To Steam Gift Card
You can request a refund to your Steam Wallet within 14 days of making the purchase. The condition is to use the funds on Steam. You can also refund unredeemed gifts as the recipient. But the funds will return to the giver.
Refund To MoneyPak Gift Card
You can use the MoneyPak refund request page to request a refund. Just fill the form and send it. You must also provide the MoneyPak number printed on the card.
Refund To Victoria’s Secret Gift Card
You can request a refund within 90 days of purchase. You can also return purchased items and gifts and get a Merchandise Card.
Refund To Best Buy
Best Buy will refund a gift card only if you can provide the receipt.
The TLDR Version
You can’t buy something with a gift card and return it for cash. You’ll even get yourself into legal trouble if you do that. There’re some workarounds, though.
In most cases, you can’t sell or exchange the gift card itself. You can return the gift card and get between $5 and $10, depending on where you live. You can also buy something with your gift card and resell it as a new item.
When you want the cash, go to the gift card issuer and ask them what they can do for you.