3 Tips for Converting Unwanted Holiday Gifts Into Cash

A woman standing in her decorated living room holding an armful of gifts.

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Sitting on gifts you don't want or need? Here's your game plan.

Key points

  • Many people rack up debt during the holidays.
  • Selling unwanted gifts is a great way to eke out cash and use it to better your financial situation.

The holidays may be a fun and festive season, but they can also be expensive. In fact, consumers routinely rack up holiday debt while enjoying the special time of year.

If you're now facing a hefty balance on your credit cards due to holiday expenses, you may be eager to shed that debt. Or, you may have a general need for money, whether it's because your rent recently went up or you're trying to build an emergency fund.

Either way, there are different options you can explore for scrounging up cash, like working a side hustle or cutting back on non-essential spending. But if you're sitting on a pile of unwanted holiday gifts, you may have a prime opportunity to convert them to something much more useful -- cash. Here are three tips on how to do that.

1. Sell your gift cards online

Many people buy gift cards as holiday presents because they're easy and often well-received. But you may have been given some gift cards you don't really want. If that's the case, you have a couple of options.

First, you can post a message on your social media page asking if anyone is willing to take those gift cards off your hands at full price. If you have a $50 gift card to a friend's favorite restaurant, that friend may be willing to do you a favor and just buy it from you, knowing that money will easily get spent.

If that doesn't work, there are sites that allow you to sell gift cards for cash. Usually, you'll have to accept less than their face value -- for example, you might only get $40 for a $50 gift card. But if you won't be using that gift card, you might as well get some money out of it.

A simple Google search will lead you to different sites that offer cash for gift cards, but here are some you can start with:

  • Gift Card Granny
  • Cardpool
  • CardCash

2. Hold a yard sale

You may be sitting on unwanted holiday gifts in addition to other items in your home you no longer use. If you're willing to give up a few hours of your weekend, you may have success selling these items during a yard sale.

That said, be careful with yard sales. Some people may show up expecting really steep discounts. If you received a sweater you don't like that retails for $50, you may not even get $25 for it at a yard sale -- you may only get $5 or $10.

3. Target specific groups on social media

If you received pricier items as holiday gifts, you probably don't want to just throw them out on a yard sale table and hope for the best. Instead, you may want to make more of an effort to sell them for as much money as possible with the help of social media.

Say you received a $150 purse that isn't your style. If you find a group dedicated to handbag sales and trends, you might find a buyer who will pay closer to your purse's actual retail value, especially if it's brand new with the tags still attached.

Many people have the best of intentions when giving out holiday gifts. But if you're sitting on items you don't want, you might as well try selling them -- especially if you have holiday debt to pay off or have another pressing need for cash. You may need to be careful when selling those items, though. It's one thing to unload a gift card for cash and move on. But if a family member bought you something specific, like a vase, they might expect to see it out on display when they visit. You'll need to be judicious about the items you choose to sell versus keep.

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