There's a new place to cash in on your unwanted gift cards: Walmart. The big-box chain unveiled an online gift card exchange that allows consumers to swap cards from more than 200 retailers, restaurants and airlines for a Walmart e-gift card that can be used in stores and online.
Through a partnership with discount gift card marketplace CardCash.com, Walmart launched its gift card exchange -- Walmart.cardcash.com -- on December 25. The retailer plans to test the service for several weeks to determine whether it will keep it around. The initial response seems promising. "We have seen tremendous volume and are very happy with the success and impact of the partnership," says CardCash.com CEO Elliot Bohm.
Walmart isn't the first to experiment with gift card exchanges. Several Web sites, including GiftcardZen.com, Cardpool.com and GiftCards.com, already let consumers sell unwanted gift cards for cash. And cash, of course, can be used more widely than a Walmart e-gift card. Cardpool will also exchange gift cards for Amazon.com gift cards.
While no gift card exchange will pay full value for a card, Walmart's current payout rate -- the percentage of the face value that you will receive in exchange for your gift card -- appears to be higher than the industry norm. Bohm says the exchange offers on Walmart.cardcash.com are, on average, 5% better than competitors' offers. According to Walmart, it's offering up to 97% of the face value of gift cards. The most you can usually get is 93% of a card's value, according to Gift Card Granny, which compares offers from several sites that buy and sell gift cards.
For several major retailers' gift cards we checked, Walmart.cardcash.com was offering a higher Walmart e-gift card value than cash offers from several of the top discount gift card marketplaces. For example, you can exchange a $50 Best Buy gift card for a Walmart e-gift card worth $46.20. The highest offer we could find on Gift Card Granny was $44.75. A $50 Target gift card could be exchanged for a $48.30Walmart e-gift card versus $45.25 in cash.
The exchange value for non-retail gift cards wasn't as generous, though Walmart's offer still came out ahead. For example, a $25 Starbucks gift card would net 70% of its value in cash on GiftcardZen and 71% of its value on Cardpool. The same $25 Starbucks card would net 72.5% of its value in the form of a Walmart e-gift card.
If you need cold hard cash, swap your gift cards at a reputable Web site such as GiftcardZen or Cardpool. But if you do most of your shopping at Walmart, you should consider trading in your gift cards at Walmart's online exchange to take advantage of the higher payout rates.
Here's how it works: Visit Walmart.cardcash.com and click on the "Enter a Merchant" field to see a list of merchants' gift cards that can be traded in for a Walmart e-gift card.
Along with information about the gift card you want to exchange, you'll have to enter your name, address, email, phone number and credit card number (to verify your personal information). Then you'll receive an email usually within an hour or two with a Walmart e-gift card. There's no need to mail in your old gift card since the value is transferred electronically. You can use the code on the Walmart e-gift card to make purchases online or print it out to make purchases in Walmart stores. Walmart e-gift cards can also be used at Sam's Club.