Join 3,418 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I don't want Amazon credit; I want the money
May 30, 2012 3:07 PM   Subscribe

I got a $400 birthday gift in the form of an Amazon e-gift card. I don't want anything from Amazon, but I could really use the $400.

My parents bought me a generous Amazon gift card (electronic, not actual card). The problem is that I don't currently need or want books or cds or electronics or clothes--I just need to pay my rent and my bills. Amazon (obviously) won't change it into cash and then send it to me, and if I were to buy something and then return it, they could only credit my account, which gets me nowhere.

My parents can't take the money back and send me a check, and even if they could, I can't tell them that I'm currently in a bad financial situation (long story and please don't bother to answer regarding what I should or shouldn't tell my parents).

I've thought about buying something high-end from Amazon, and then re-selling it at a lower price to at least recoup most of the money, but from what I'm finding with casual searches of craigslist and ebay, even "brand new, still in box, never opened" stuff only sells for deep, deep discounts.

Does anyone have any ideas how I can change these Amazon-only dollars into cash in my hand?
posted by A neighbourhood park all covered with cheese to Work & Money (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you have a friend who wants 400 bucks worth of stuff from Amazon? (Or several friends who collectively want that much stuff?) Buy something for them and then have them write you a check.
posted by madcaptenor at 3:11 PM on May 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sell the giftcard at a discount? Like $350 for a $400 card.
posted by KogeLiz at 3:11 PM on May 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have seen gift cards (even one-time use coupon codes) auctioned on ebay for a slight discount. If you have a seller account with a positive user rating, I would probably go that route.
posted by allisonrae at 3:14 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Amazon sells groceries and other necessities. Order a bunch of stuff you would normally buy somewhere else and save something approaching the amount of the card from your paycheck.
posted by rocketpup at 3:15 PM on May 30, 2012 [45 favorites]


Just came in to also say Amazon sells groceries. Otherwise, I have a friend who buys (discounted) gift cards on CL, so there is a market there for it.
posted by vignettist at 3:20 PM on May 30, 2012


There are a bunch of sites out there that buy and sell giftcards (or just the numbers) for varying percentages less than what they are worth. I've used this one before and I can vouch that, at least in my case, it was all legit and I didn't get scammed. I believe I got 35 dollars for a 40 dollar Macy's giftcard, I would imagine you would have no problem selling one for Amazon.
posted by primalux at 3:20 PM on May 30, 2012


Though I just checked and it doesn't seem like that site buys Amazon giftcards so perhaps I was wrong about it not being difficult.
posted by primalux at 3:21 PM on May 30, 2012


Looks like you can buy a used iPad 2 for $390.05 + $12.15 Shipping and Handling.

Sell it for $389.05 + $12.15 Shipping and Handling.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:22 PM on May 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was going to suggest using it for groceries/household items as well, which would free up some money in your bank account. I buy stuff like toilet paper, paper towels, detergent, cleaning products, diapers, etc on Amazon because it's often cheaper - especially if you can use part of the GC for a $79 Amazon Prime membership for a year, since it gives you access to free 2-day shipping. It might not be $400 in hand all at once, but using it incrementally might give you some breathing room for a while.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 3:27 PM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not a perfect solution, but it looks like you can buy other gift cards on Amazon. So maybe there's something there that you'd be buying anyway. Or a place you eat frequently, etc.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:37 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can buy prepaid AmEx cards on Amazon. I suspect it's a bit of a racket, trying to get you to leave a balance on the card. And each $100 card effectively costs you about $4.
posted by gurple at 3:39 PM on May 30, 2012


Oh, whoops... looks like the AmEx thing is an external link; probably you can't buy it with the Amazon gift card.
posted by gurple at 3:40 PM on May 30, 2012


you can't buy new Amazon gift cards with a gift card. OP is the e-gift card already applied to your account? If not don't do that yet. They can't be transferred if it is.

Not sure it would help at all but you can also use the Amazon gift cards at myhabit.com or endless.com.
posted by oneear at 3:45 PM on May 30, 2012


Maybe you don't have a friend who wants $400 worth of stuff from Amazon, but you do have a couple of friends that want $50 or $100 worth of stuff, and they can give you the cash and you order for them? But I think the other ideas of trying to sell the whole card for slightly less than face value are probably your best bet.
posted by catatethebird at 4:04 PM on May 30, 2012


Sell it on Craigslist for $360 or $375. You should be able to get cash for it in a day or two.
posted by Slinga at 4:05 PM on May 30, 2012


You do, in fact, need stuff Amazon sells. Groceries come to mind. And things like laundry detergent. Free shipping frequently applies. So load up on that stuff and use the money you would have spent on bills.
posted by valkyryn at 4:28 PM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is afaik a substantial discount when reselling gift cards online because the buyer cannot verify the card in advance. You should therefore look for buyers who've enough hold over you that they need not verify the card's authenticity in advance.

Is your landlord an actual human instead of an organization? If so, you might consider asking them if they've any use for it. Any friends who buy unlocked phones regularly? If so, you might consider asking any if they're itching to make a purchase. Ask around your office?

Would your parents buy $400 off Amazon? If so, ask them if they'd take the card back. You should communicate the problem with them regardless though. Gift cards are an exploitive evil racket that should be outlawed.

As an aside, I believe amongst the best 100ish dollars I've ever spent was accidentally losing about five $20 gift cards from the various different family members who stupidly like giving gift cards, gradually over several different gifting occasions. I later informed them all that I'd lost multiple gift cards, including all theirs, that they should expect the same in future, and that I happily accept cash. I now get cash.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:36 PM on May 30, 2012


Amazon sells practically everything besides your rent and bills. Food, cleaning supplies, soap, razor blades, shampoo, etc... If you are able to afford your immediate rent and such, I would just apply the gift card to your Amazon account and use it for many of your purchases. This should help take some strain off your wallet to pay the aforementioned rent and bills.

Great username btw!
posted by zachlipton at 4:42 PM on May 30, 2012


Amazon sells groceries and other necessities.

You do, in fact, need stuff Amazon sells. Groceries come to mind.


I have food stamps for groceries. I need actual real money for my gas bill and electric bill and rent.
posted by A neighbourhood park all covered with cheese at 4:43 PM on May 30, 2012


Is your landlord an actual human instead of an organization? If so, you might consider asking them if they've any use for it. Any friends who buy unlocked phones regularly? If so, you might consider asking any if they're itching to make a purchase. Ask around your office?

Yeah, don't think of this as so much of a gift card as it is license to get $400 worth of stuff from a store that sells everything. If you need it in cash for rent/bills, I bet between a few friends you could cover the 400 bucks pretty quick.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 4:44 PM on May 30, 2012


Great username btw!

Thanks. I'm quite sure Helsinki's in Finland.
posted by A neighbourhood park all covered with cheese at 4:45 PM on May 30, 2012


If friends didn't want to buy the gift card from me, I'd buy and resell an iPad, as oceanjesse suggested. Just make sure you take lots of photos, document its condition and pack it impeccably.
posted by cnc at 4:54 PM on May 30, 2012


The best way to turn a $400 Amazon gift card into a roughly equivalent amount of money (aside from selling it for $400, of course) is to buy $400 worth of stuff from Amazon that you would have bought anyway. If you don't think you want anything from Amazon, look harder. Put aside your preconceptions about what Amazon sells, and just start searching for anything you would buy at a store (other than stuff you can get with food stamps). When you get stuff for free that you would have otherwise spent money on, this will directly cause you to have more money available to spend on bills and rent.
posted by John Cohen at 5:41 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


buy $400 worth of stuff from Amazon that you would have bought anyway. If you don't think you want anything from Amazon, look harder.

I'm realizing that I didn't make this clear enough in my question--I need the money ASAP, not "in my budget."
posted by A neighbourhood park all covered with cheese at 5:47 PM on May 30, 2012


Selling at a discount to someone on Craigslist, in person, for cash, is going to be your fastest option. All the other options like eBay or carpool will take a while.
posted by overleaf at 5:52 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have you thought about asking your parents to buy it back from you? It might be a little awkward, but may be the best route if you are adamant you can't do anything with it. The other possibility is to ask them to lend you the money to cover your bills and use the gift card to buy the household and personal care items you will need over a period of time. I say this as someone who buys anything I possibly can from Amazon (and most of it isn't frivolous or fun) and has been severely cash strapped and far too often needed money more than a gift certificate or present. I also think the suggestion of purchasing things for friends & family at their request and then having them give you cash for it is an excellent one.
posted by katemcd at 6:37 PM on May 30, 2012


Ack, just realized I missed the part about your folks. Sorry it's late, I read it but didn't retain it.
posted by katemcd at 6:38 PM on May 30, 2012


Sell on ebay or craigslist. I know I would buy it!
posted by manicure12 at 9:14 PM on May 30, 2012


As a teen, I used to get gift cards from well-meaning relatives for the record store, because that was what the young people liked, right? Unfortunately, what I always wanted was books.

So I'd just go to the record store and stand in line until I saw somebody about to make a purchase for the same value as the gift card, then ask them to trade for cash. Nobody ever said no, since the cashier was right there to ensure the card was genuine.

Because an online gift card doesn't give strangers the security of knowing the cashier will check for validity, a lot of people are wary about buying giftcards online. (Rightly, imho. There are a lot of scams.) You need to put the word out amongst your friends that anybody looking to buy an ipad or a new TV or bicycle or whatever should come talk to you first. Then have them tell all their friends.

Maybe do some research yourself into the good deals Amazon has on big ticket items, so that if it comes up in conversation that somebody you know wants an [item] you can smoothly drop into conversation that you saw one reduced to [amount] on Amazon the other day and if they're interested in buying it, they could totally use your giftcard.

Also, be warned. When parents buy you giftcards instead of giving money it is often because they actively don't want you to spend it on bills, but on something nice for yourself that you wouldn't ordinarily be able to buy. After a reasonable time period has elapsed, they're probably going to ask what you bought with it.
posted by the latin mouse at 12:34 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've sold plenty of gift cards online and I've never heard a problem - I've always been able to sell them for nearly as much as the gift card is worth. For example, for a $400 gift card I think you could get at least $375, maybe more. I've only done this on ebay and you need an ebay account with positive seller feedback in order to make this work. If you don't have that, try Craigslist, though I imagine you will be able to sell the card for less there (say, maybe $350? - but you could list it for $375 and see what happens - you may very well get a bite). Make sure you only accept cash, not a check.
posted by whitelily at 5:08 AM on May 31, 2012


Reading your question, I could have swore that I remembered reading once that there were sites just for this and lo and behold, a little quick googling turns some up.

Here's a NYT-linked piece that details the fees and cost associated with doing this. It looks like the site cardpool.com is gonna give you the best bang for your internet-based dollar. I'd steer clear of ebay if you can -- like the article mentions, while it is a viable way to sell the card for cash, it's a hassle and you run the risk of fraud which isn't going to be an issue with sites like cardpool or plastic jungle.
posted by youandiandaflame at 6:32 AM on May 31, 2012


Amazon has their own sort of Paypal service called Amazon Payments. Could you use that service to pay your bills/rent with the gift card?
posted by macadamiaranch at 9:34 AM on May 31, 2012


« Older Looking for binoculars for mos...   |  Ethics and etiquette of accept... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.