How to turn a gift card into cash?
December 18, 2007 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to turn a VISA gift card into cash?

I got a $100 visa gift card as an early christmas present, but I really need cash - the only thing I can see myself spending money on in the near future is going to the bar with my friends, and the one we frequent is cash-only.

Are there places where you can buy something with a card and return it for cash?
I thought about buying videogames and selling them back to gamestop, but that would be crazy expensive.

Any other ideas?
posted by clcapps to Work & Money (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Trade it on Craigslist for actual money? You'd need some way to verify the balance and also to make sure you weren't receiving a counterfeit bill, I guess. (The way to do that would be to do the exchange in a store, have them swipe the card and mark the bill with a counterfeit pen.) Or maybe you could sell it to a friend or co-worker?
posted by lhall at 10:55 AM on December 18, 2007

This type of thing is pretty common on eBay and the likes.

You might get something like $95 for it, but it's close enough. If you can find a friend or the like, as lhall suggests, you can probably trade it for the full amount.
posted by fogster at 10:58 AM on December 18, 2007

Oh! Why didn't I think of this?

Can you use it at a place that gives cash back, like most supermarkets? The trick is that you can usually only do it in certain increments, and you can't buy something for $0.00, so you'll probably have to spend $20 at a store.
posted by fogster at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2007

I would say either exchange it with someone on Craiglist for actual cash, or use it somewhere that will accept it and is useful, like the supermarket.
posted by sutel at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2007

When Mrs. Advicepig won a Visa gift card a few years back, we were able to cash it in minus a service fee. It was worth it to us because it was free money either way. The card was issued by US Bank and had directions for cashing it out on the back of the card.
posted by advicepig at 11:05 AM on December 18, 2007

Not sure if any of these will help:

Gift Card Buy Back



posted by sharkfu at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2007

(The way to do that would be to do the exchange in a store, have them swipe the card and mark the bill with a counterfeit pen.)

Just wanted to point out that the only thing those pens check for is the presence of starch in the paper -- the only chemical inside is iodine. All that they prove is that the money isn't printed on ordinary paper, which would be extremely obvious anyway. Check for watermarks/microprinting/security threads instead.

(those pens bug me, because they're the cash equivalent of no-liquids-on-a-plane)
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2007 [5 favorites]

Talk with your banker. Last year, I was able to deposit part of a gift card balance into an overdrawn account, and withdraw the surplus as cash. This was at Wells Fargo.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2007

On preview: Damn, I was about to suggest what Foetry Guy suggested, but using PayPal. I I actually did this last year to get the last few bucks off a card the night before it expired.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 12:00 PM on December 18, 2007

You can paypal someone money w/o having a paypal account. Or, say, yourself.

You might want to pay yourself under the guise of another name, lest you set off some money laundering concerns. Since it's a no-name gift card that doesn't seem likely to be an issue.
posted by phearlez at 12:03 PM on December 18, 2007

If your Visa gift card was issued by a bank, Google them and see if, like TD Bank North does, you can locate a branch of the institution nearby and have them issue you a check for what's on the card.
posted by WCityMike at 12:13 PM on December 18, 2007

And some Visa gift cards allow ATM withdrawal. Most don't, but it appears some do. Perhaps check the material you got with the card, and/or Google the precise name of the gift card, to see if it has a home website on which you can look at the fine details.
posted by WCityMike at 12:14 PM on December 18, 2007

If you don't have a Bank of America checking account, you can open one (these days you can do this for free plus get a $100 bonus) and make your initial deposit using any Visa or MC. Voila.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:57 PM on December 18, 2007

If you have a good relationship with your bank, it will let you draw cash from a Visa/MC gift card and deposit straight into your account. If the bank doesn't trust you then it will think this is some sort of scam and block it. In tha past, Bank of America and USAA have both deposited gift cards for me.
posted by meehawl at 1:15 PM on December 18, 2007

When Mrs. Advicepig won a Visa gift card a few years back, we were able to cash it in minus a service fee.

That's pretty outrageous considering the fact that they also charge a "purchase fee" at the front end. In fact. it's $4 for a $25 card. It's good that she won it. You wouldn't want to admit to buying such rip. I hate banks.
posted by Neiltupper at 2:09 PM on December 18, 2007

This problem perplexed me too, so much in fact that I created a website to make getting your $$$ off the card easy. You can transfer the balance on your Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover gift card to PayPal at

There are quite a few buy/sell/trade sites for gift cards, many of which handle the open-loop Visa types as well. You can find a pretty comprehensive list at
posted by petersb at 10:04 PM on August 19, 2008

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