How to turn Amazon Gift Card into something else
November 22, 2020 1:55 PM   Subscribe

My boss gave me an Amazon Gift Card for my 10-year anniversary. While I appreciate the gift and was not given a choice on the kind of gift, I cannot in conscience shop at Amazon. Especially this COVID year when our local commerce is hurting while Amazon is making profit hand-over-fist. I'm not an Amazon person and do not really know what options I have to turn this gift card into something else. Any ideas are welcome.
posted by gloturtle to Shopping (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I’m in a similar situation and one thing I’ve thought of doing (but not yet done) is buying items for a non-profit/charity from their wishlist, so at least some good is coming of it, thought it’s obviously still shopping at amazon. (But I mean... they already have the money.) I’m eager to read other suggestions.
posted by obfuscation at 2:01 PM on November 22, 2020 [17 favorites]

I would look for a nonprofit, library or charity that has an Amazon wishlist and use the card to purchase items for them.

Or you can find someone in your town who is down on their luck and give it to them. I had a friend who was a social worker at a residential home for girls with trauma/psychiatric issues and once gave her a gift card I'd won. She used to to buy games for the lounge there.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 2:02 PM on November 22, 2020 [12 favorites]

Consider donating the card to a nonprofit, either to use for their own organizational purposes, or for the group to give to a client.
posted by NotLost at 2:03 PM on November 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

The money has already been given over to Amazon- someone will spend it, whether or not it's you. If no one spends it, Amazon just profits more.

So you could sell it, but the traditional advice for "ill-gotten riches" is to spend it on charity and those who are in need. I wouldn't say these are ill-gotten funds, but somehow seems to fit in the same general bucket based on your values.
posted by cacao at 2:05 PM on November 22, 2020 [21 favorites]

Re Donating the card to a non-prfit. Can I transfer the card to another entity?
posted by gloturtle at 2:10 PM on November 22, 2020

You could use it to buy a different gift card, maybe for something you are already ok with (netflix? safeway? starbucks? chipotle?). Presumably the margins on that are slimmer for Amazon.
posted by dum spiro spero at 2:12 PM on November 22, 2020

Many local charities will have Amazon wish lists to make it easier for people to buy things for them. My local animal shelter does this, for example. So you could visit one of those and use the full value of the gift card to buy things they've asked for. You cannot get the money back from Amazon; you can only turn it into doing as much good as possible at this point.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:17 PM on November 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

You could sell it (on eBay, Craigslist,, r/giftcardexchange, etc.). It will almost certainly get bought by someone who was going to spend that money on Amazon anyway and just wants a slightly better deal, so this approach likely doesn't increase Amazon's bottom line, and you end up with cash you can spend wherever. (Be careful of scammers, though.)
posted by Syllepsis at 2:23 PM on November 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

(I'm pretty sure you can't purchase a gift card on Amazon with an Amazon gift card.)

I would straight up buy something super helpful -- diapers, menstrual products, clean socks, pet food, etc. and donate it straight to a local group who helps the unhoused or domestic violence survivors.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:26 PM on November 22, 2020 [7 favorites]

Can I transfer the card to another entity?

You could use it to buy a different gift card, maybe for something you are already ok with (netflix? safeway? starbucks? chipotle?)

I'm not sure what you mean by "transfer to another entity," but you can't use Amazon gift cards to buy other gift cards:

"You may not...Use a gift card to purchase certain ineligible goods and services such as collectible coins or other gift cards [my emphasis]"

It doesn't of course rule out any kind of indirect or third-party method such as the ones suggested above, but there is no straightforward way to convert an Amazon gift card to a gift card for another vendor.

From Amazon's accounting perspective, the value of a gift card is initially recorded as a liability, but if left unspent will eventually be recorded as income due to "breakage," i.e. an unredeemed gift card.
posted by andrewesque at 2:30 PM on November 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Charity wishlists are a great idea. They're often tied to Amazon even if they're prefer not to be, because it's the most effective way for them to receive donations of things. Double down by making the purchase through and setting the beneficiary to the same charity.

If you want to just straight-up give the card to a charity or someone else in need, you should be able to. Amazon gift cards are generally just alphanumeric codes not tied to a specific individual or account. If you've received a physical card, you can physically give it to another person or entity. If you've received a virtual card, you can forward the details to them.

This may not be the case for certain kinds of virtual gift cards, like if someone gifted you a specific amount to use on a specific Kindle book purchase, and definitely check the terms for any virtual gift card you get. But in my experience Amazon gift cards are generally easy to transfer.

You can't, like, transfer the credit directly to another place to have credit from, though. If you could, it would be to another place that benefits Amazon anyway.
posted by rhiannonstone at 2:35 PM on November 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Also, if you're thinking non-profit, remember to use rather than, and some of the money will go to a charity that you can choose from a list. About AmazonSmile.
posted by smcameron at 2:36 PM on November 22, 2020 [6 favorites]

If you have a physical gift card, yes, you can just give that to anyone; likewise if you have a gift card code you can give that to anyone. If the gift card is already in your Amazon account, then you have to use it to buy things.
posted by mskyle at 2:39 PM on November 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

If you know someone who shops at amazon you could sell it to them and use the cash to shop locally for your actual gift. As pointed out earlier, Amazon already has the money. You could even sell the card at slight discount to entice someone, ie $100 card for $80.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:46 PM on November 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Maybe use it only for a third-party vendor on their site (even though Amazon still gets a cut, at least some money will go to Someone Other Than Amazon). And/or not only use (so part - albeit a very small part - of the payment will go to a charity) but also use the card to order items from said charity's wishlist and have them sent directly to the charity. (I've done it for House Rabbit Society in the past, so you should be able to do the same for the charity of your choice).
posted by gtrwolf at 2:57 PM on November 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

A lot of mutual aid groups use Amazon wishlists because they work, and people will use them, and the shipping is properly handled and the ship-to address kept private. It's not great but it gets the job done, and it's mostly loss-leader items anyway. I keep several local groups - pretty informal, but they're going out and giving food and warm clothes to people every weekend - bookmarked for when I've got some kind of card or points that I can't really use anywhere else.

A lot of grant money can't be used to buy menstrual supplies or diapers, so when possible that's what I buy off groups' wishlists.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:26 PM on November 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

It’s possible some of your local businesses are also selling on Amazon, these days.
posted by janell at 4:50 PM on November 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Food banks around where I live make use of Amazon cards and food and sanitary goods bought through Amazon. I'd definitely check with what non-profit organizations are around you, if a donation is of interest to you.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:45 PM on November 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Something to consider is using an Amazon affiliate link like the Metafilter one, so that your favourite affiliate gets a share of Amazon's profit.
posted by Lanark at 7:55 AM on November 23, 2020

Another thing you could do is sell it to someone who would spend the money on Amazon anyway, so you're effectively reducing the total money spent on Amazon by $100, as opposed to someone like yourself using it who normally wouldn't.
posted by cacao at 8:42 AM on November 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

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