How can I convert prepaid reward cards to cash?
October 12, 2009 11:42 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to convert prepaid reward credit cards to cash? I have a reward card from American Express and a rebate card through Visa that I would like to convert to cash because spending the precise amount the cards are worth is difficult.
posted by SuperCoolZane to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Some states, CA specifically, have laws that allow you to get cash as change from these cards when the balance falls below $10. But one way to do precisely what you ask is simply to sell the cards on ebay or craigslist. It's not uncommon to get 90%+ of the value of the card in cash.
posted by GuyZero at 11:45 AM on October 12, 2009

It would probably be easier to spend them on groceries/utilities/rent (paying cash for the balance); then you'll have the equivalent cash on hand, no? You could sell them on eBay if they're transferrable, but there are fees upon markdowns associated with that route.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:47 AM on October 12, 2009

Some (e.g. the prepaid cards that come for Staples easy rebates) will send you a check for the balance simply for calling the number on the back of the card and asking nicely. I don't think this is officially advertised anywhere.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:48 AM on October 12, 2009

I recently received a VISA card from a T-Mobile rebate. I went to my bank (Wachovia) and they were able to scan the card, take off the amount I specified and transfer it to my checking account.
posted by rancidchickn at 11:49 AM on October 12, 2009

I transfered the amount on the card to myself via paypal (using a different account). Paypal took a cut -- something around 5% -- but it's an option.
posted by alexei at 11:58 AM on October 12, 2009

You can buy dollar coins direct from the U.S. mint at face value with free shipping. They take credit cards.
posted by zsazsa at 12:06 PM on October 12, 2009 [4 favorites]

I used a $50 Visa gift card to pay for a purchase that was greater than $50. In my case, it was at the grocery store. On the little do-it-yourself credit card swipe pad, when it said, e.g., "$64.78 OK? Yes/No" I pressed no, and it asked me how much I would rather charge to that particular card. I entered $50.00, then it prompted me for a second method of payment for the remaining $14.78 (or whatever). So it is easier than you might think to use all $50 on the card.
posted by Nothlit at 12:18 PM on October 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

These cards are useful for things that you can spend arbitrary amounts of money on. I use them for:

Donations to charity
Buying gas
Adding value to my public transit pass

(But watch out for places that put a debit hold on your card, that can reduce your ability to spend the whole thing.)
posted by phoenixy at 12:19 PM on October 12, 2009

If by "spending the precise amount the cards are worth is difficult" means that you use them for a bit and then you have a random amount left on them, I suggest using that random amount to pay down a bill. Most bills you can pay online using a credit card will ask you for an exact amount to charge to the card. There won't be anything "extra" added to the amount they request like a tip or the $1 pre-authorization you get at a gas station, for example.

If you only needed to do this once for a large amount, you could conceivably pay a smallish bill using the whole amount and then request a refund from the bill payee. But refund policies vary wildly, so be sure that you'd be financially okay if they say "No, that amount will be used up in six months of billing so we will not refund it."
posted by soelo at 12:34 PM on October 12, 2009

Amazon gift cards can also be a good way to allow you to handle odd amounts. There is a five dollar minimum, but over that any amount is fine. You can then split the end purchase between any other form of payment and the balance of the gift card.
posted by cspurrier at 7:41 PM on October 12, 2009

Buy groceries, works all the time whether I'm checking myself out or whether there is a cashier.
posted by Brian Puccio at 3:18 AM on October 13, 2009

You know you can split transactions between cash and plastic at stores, right? So you could use the 4$ left on the card and pay the balance of your 5$ latte in cash...
posted by WeekendJen at 1:50 PM on October 13, 2009

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