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The Quick And Easy Way To Get Money Off Of Gift Cards

December 25, 2009 · 7 comments

If any of your family or friends were wasteful enough to spend $29 to give you a $25 Visa or Mastercard gift card, rest assured, there is hope. Aside from selling the card to somebody else (and this is all assuming that you don’t want to use the card to actually buy anything), you can just send the money to yourself via PayPal. I did this last night with my gift cards using a Donate button I created for my account. Simply log out of your PayPal account and donate money to yourself from the card using whatever personal info you registered the card with. Keep in mind that Paypal takes a 2.9% + $0.30 fee for you to receive the money (on a business account, anyway). On $25 cards, this worked out to a little over a dollar per card.

Also keep in mind that you need to wait a bit (try a couple hours for best results) after registering your card with the issuer before donating to yourself. Paypal may decline the card on the first try, while also putting a $1 hold on it. In a fit of impatience, I started over again with $24 donations, and it went through. This leaves $1 on each of my 3 cards. The best solution in this case is NOT to donate $1 to yourself after the hold clears, because you’ll lose 33 cents on the transaction, which is pretty steep. Well, it’s 33% for that matter. I intend to take them to the gas station I frequent after work, explain my situation to one of the regulars there that knows me, and make 3 $1 purchases of gas. It’ll have to be done inside though, because the pump will probably reject the card for not being able to cover the initial hold.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

pfstock December 26, 2009 at 1923

I agree that those prepaid Visa and MasterCard gift cards can be frustrating, especially when trying to spend the last dollar or so (as you described in your post). My technique is to use the entire balance (e.g., $25 in your case) to buy a gift card at the grocery store where I usually shop. There is no fee to do that, and I know it will can be spent quickly.

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bekki December 26, 2011 at 1732

I tried this out, because I recieved a gift card from Chase Bank from a friend, and ended up not being able to continue to donate to myself because my card was not a credit or debit card… -_-

If you have any suggestions as to what else I can do, or if I did something wrong, it would be appreciated!

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Jake December 28, 2011 at 0052

Bekki, these cards should always be seen as an ordinary debit card. You use the word “continue,” which makes me wonder – did it work before at some point? Also, did you make sure to register the card at http://www.chase.com/giftcard with your name, address, etc. so that it will work properly for online payments?

I had a Chase gift card still in my wallet with $10.38 left on it, so went ahead and tried this again, and it worked just fine. Lost 60 cents in the deal, but the card balance is now zero, and the money’s in my Paypal account.

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bekki December 28, 2011 at 1832

Ah, I didn’t try the register online because when I received the card, it came with a little brochure saying I need not register it unless I wanted to be on the safe side – in case someone had stolen my card, I would then be refunded the money. It also stated that I didn’t need to register the card to make online payments.. so I don’t know what went wrong for me?

I say continue, not because this has worked before but because it would not let me continue to the next page where I could donate to myself because my card was “not a valid credit or debit card” according to PayPal’s error notice. Yes, I did enter all the information correctly – it just would not let me continue.

But the next time I have this issue, I will be sure to register it online. Fortunetly and yet unfortunetly, I had someone willing to buy the card off me for $85 (I have still yet to see why people insist on paying less than what is on my gift card. It will work anywhere, so a straight $100 for $100 gift card would be appropriate – in my eyes).

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Jake December 28, 2011 at 2022

Well, because it’s them taking the burden of the card being a PITA off of you. I’d personally pay $95 for it.

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just wounderin September 13, 2012 at 0244

Say i have a couple cards with no more than 10 cents left on them what would happen if i tried to donate 10 cents to myself??? just woundering…

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Jake September 13, 2012 at 0341

You’d be wasting your time, and might even pay more than what was on the cards in fees. Kudos for managing to get them down so low, but seriously, throw them away.

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