Everything you need to know about Gift Card Reselling
There are tons of ways to earn a boatload of miles and points with your credit cards, but it’s not all about the signup bonuses. You could get into manufactured spend, reselling, or even gift card reselling. The problem is that most people walk into it with no knowledge or know-how, and can potentially be left with hundreds if not thousands of gift cards lying around that you can’t use. This guide should serve as a good launching point to get you started in a very profitable and lucrative adventure… gift card reselling.
What is gift card reselling?
Gift Card Reselling: The act of buying store gift cards (Target, Home Depot, etc) and reselling them in the marketplace to earn miles, points, or even cash back.
Sounds simple, right? You should just be able to head to your favorite grocery store, snag some gift cards, and become a points millionaire. Ahh, if it were only that easy! There’s a lot more complexities involved than simply buying them and getting rid of them.
The basic rule of gift card selling is this. Find a gift card that is being offered at a discount and sell it at a discount with the express purpose of either breaking even or losing as little as possible. Here’s an example:
1) Store XYZ offers an iTunes gift card at 15% off. That means a $100 gift card will cost $85. NOTE: It doesn’t mean that the card is loaded with $85, it means the card is loaded with $100, you just paid $85.
2) Company ABC will buy a $100 iTunes Gift card at a 15% discount, in other words for $85. That means that you paid $85 and you’re selling it for $85. Total Profit, $0. You didn’t earn any money on this deal, but you earn the miles/points for it.
3) Send your gift card to company ABC either via the mail or electronically. You’ll receive payment for your $85 in about 7-10 days.
It’s really that easy! Well, at least on paper it’s that easy. Here’s a step by step on how to make this whole complicated mess of gift card reselling work for you.
Where to buy?
The most important question of all is “where do I find all these discounted gift cards? It’s not like you can just walk into a store and ask for a discount on their gift cards, right? Well, why not?
Sometimes stores WILL offer discounts on their own gift cards. Just this past Sunday, Target was offering a straight 10% off on their gift cards. No strings attached, just walk in, buy up to a $300 gift card, and you pay 10% less. We took advantage of a few of these deals; a couple for ourselves and a couple to resell. A 10% discount on Target is a good deal, no matter how you look at it!
Many drug stores will offer not necessarily discounts on cards but perhaps offer a cashback offer. The drugstore chain RiteAid offers “Plenti points” which can be used on future purchases you might make in the store. Everyone needs toilet paper, toothpaste, and cough medicine, right? Using these Plenti points to discount your regular purchases is a great way to get your basic goods for free. For example, you can buy a $100 Southwest Airlines gift card for $100, but get $10 in Plenti points in return. If you’re able to sell that $100 gift card for $91, you can make $1 on each card you buy! Nicely done! Kmart does the same thing, and we LOVE shopping at Kmart (mostly because of the Uber partnership that gets us free money…)
Ebay is another great place to buy discounted gift cards. The two biggest companies are SVM and PayPal Digital Gifts. They often run discounts of 8-20% on gift cards. You don’t even have to leave your house! Just log into your eBay account and boom. Manufactured spend in your pajamas! The great part about buying from PayPal Digital Gifts is that the cards are typically delivered within minutes, so reselling them is a quick process.
One important point to know about eBay is that many people will sell “Pre-Owned” gift cards. Many online gift card resellers won’t take pre-owned cards because of the risk that they might not be valid.
There are many places to find out about gift cards sales. Slickdeals is an awesome website that will often clue readers in to deals. Dan’s Deals is another. Often, your local store flyer is the best place to find deals! I used to throw them away, but now I am always looking at the RiteAid flyer (there is a store 3 blocks from our house…)
Don’t have a Sunday newspaper subscription? No problem! You can always check the store website directly and find their weekly ad. I love doing this with Staples and Office Depot. They’ll often list their deals right in the circular.
When to buy?
This one’s easy… whenever it’s on sale! It’s also important to note that not all discounted gift cards are gift cards that someone will want to buy. I recently came across a sale on Forever 21 gift cards, but I couldn’t find anyone to take them at more than 50% of face value. Just because they were 20% off to me, I’m not about to lose 30% just to earn some airline miles!
We usually see sales around major holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Black Friday are the three largest times for discounted cards. Mother’s Day, Father’s day, Graduation, Easter, and Valentines Day are also awesome times for sales, as those are typically times when people give gift cards to loved ones.
How to buy?
This one’s up to you, but there are almost no good times to buy a card with cash. I suppose if you find a place that will only sell you gift cards with cash and you’ll make an easy 3-4% and there’s no limit, then sure! Otherwise, pick your favorite credit card and go to town.
Many credit cards will offer store-type bonuses. Some cards offer 5x at Office Supply stores. Some cards offer 3x at Grocery Stores, Pharmacies, or Department Stores. I like using the Discover Card because the first year gives double cash back. Care to guess which card I used at the local Target promotion? Discover offered a 5% cash back at Target for Q4, and it’ll double for the first year. That’s a 10% cash bonus! NOW THAT’S one heck of a deal.
If you don’t have any cards with a specific bonus, don’t worry about it. If you buy $1000 in gift cards and sell them for $1000, while you’re not making a bunch of money, you just scored 1,000 miles for $0. That’s a win in my book.
Where to sell?
So, you’ve found a store that will sell you cards at a discount. How do you know if it’s a good deal? Where in the world will you go to sell them? Who can you trust not to run off with your gift cards and never seen you again? I know that’s what you were thinking, and it’s TOTALLY a valid concern.
There are three avenues that you can go with this: Public, Semi Private, and Private. We’ll go over all three to give you an idea of how to join.
There are plenty of places to sell your gift cards, if you just know where to look. You could start by googling “sell my gift cards” and you’ll find a myriad of places. A couple of the most popular are ABC Gift Cards, Gift Card Granny, and Raise. All three of these places I’ve dealt with in the past and are fairly reliable, and while Gift Card Granny isn’t a selling platform per se, they will be able to connect you with other online resellers. The downside to these platforms is they often have the worst rates. You might be able to find a good price on some gift cards, but generally speaking you won’t get that sexy of a rate.
These are websites that require you to join their group and typically go through a screening process. One of the most popular websites is one that I’ve used for well over a year. The Plastic Merchant is based out of St Louis and I’ve found to be one of the most reputable and upfront purchasers out there. There have been months when I’ve sent him over $20,000 in gift card purchases, only to receive my check in the mail a little over a week later. I’ve never had a gift card returned to me and I’ve never had any problems with payments.
They are considered semi private because not everyone can qualify to join. You’ve got to have a certain level of understanding of how this whole game works, and you also have to follow very stringent rules. For example, all gift cards must be purchased directly from the store OR from a trusted source (like PayPal, SVM, Kroger, Target, etc.). You are not allowed to sell a secondary gift card under any circumstances. Because of this rule, he’s able to secure partnerships with reputable gift card purchasers and better than noral rates, often with high amounts he can purchase.. They know that their gift cards aren’t going to come back with problems and this allows him to offer a premium over those public websites.
There are fully private gift card reselling platforms that require you to “know someone.” Ask your favorite blogger and you’ll find that they are part of at least one or two private groups. Entry into these groups is extremely limited and often requires a certain minimum spend each month. Not for the faint of heart, these groups often take the word “advanced” to a new level.
Seriously, I just talked to someone who uses the fuel points he gets from his grocery store and fills up gas cans and keeps them in the garage. That’s a level of churning I’m not willing to accept or do.
How to sell?
Many of the popular platforms let you “reserve” inventory, typically for 24 hours, before you go out and buy the cards. This way you don’t end up with a giant stack of Whole Foods gift cards when you can’t possibly use them all in your lifetime. Reserve the inventory, head out to the store, and buy your cards! If the store ran out or you can’t find any, you can cancel your reservation with no penalty.
If you’re using one of the public platforms it’s even easier. Typically there is no cap on inventory so feel free to go out and buy the card and come home. You can’t pre-reserve any inventory so if you sell the card you had better make sure that you have it.
The majority of websites will allow you to electronically send in your card information, but some of them may need the physical cards. In certain circumstances you might need to take a picture of the card (to help combat bad information) or include a picture of the receipt (to show that you actually were the purchaser).
Just like any game, there are rules and warnings. Don’t take these lightly. It’s very easy to get caught up in the miles and points world and lose a little bit of sanity, so hopefully these next four points will help you stay on track.
Remember… often you’ll have to deal with a person. A REAL LIFE actual person. That person has no freaking idea what you’re doing and I can guarantee 100% will not understand anything about your miles and points addiction. Just like when you try and tell what you do to coworkers and loved ones and get side-eye, a cashier will give you the same side-eye, but also probably won’t let you check out. He/She will probably think you’re a money launderer, or that you stole someone’s credit cards, or that you’re doing shady stuff. Just remember that you need to be honest and upfront to a certain point.
Don’t go up to the register with a stack of 10 cards and say “I would like to put $500 on each of these cards and pay for everyone under a single transaction.” You’re gonna get shut down… fast. If you’re buying more than 1 or 2 cards or trying to skirt around a store limit, ask a manager for permission. Try this line… it works for us almost every time:
“Hey there, could I ask to speak to your store manager? I’d like to know what the limits are for gift card purchases?”
SIMPLE, RIGHT?! It immediately moved you from dark alleyway thief to upfront customer. Once you get the manager in front of you try this line:
“Hey there, we wanted to buy some gift cards since they’re at a discount, but I know that (insert store) has limits. I think the person I spoke to before said it was $2,000 a day. Is that still the case?” (they’ll say yes typically…) “Perfect, is there a separate cash register I should go to? I have my credit cards and my ID ready for you.”
Just like that. You’re now going to get on the manager’s good side, and you’ll walk out with all the cards you want.
This may be actually a lot harder for some people. Remember that people like to work with people that they like. Ask the cashier about their day. Ask them about their kids (if you’ve talked to them before). When they ask “Hello how are you?” respond with something they’re not expecting like “Phew, I’m tired. What a long day. How about you?” Right there you’ve broken the ice and you’re no longer some creepy dude trying to pull one over on the unsuspecting minimum wage earner.
This is ESPECIALLY important if you’re going to be going to the store more than once. We often invite cashiers in on what we’re doing and are totally up front and honest, but only after 3 or 4 visits once they start to remember our faces. Before you know it, you’re finding out about their lives and they’re finding out about yours. Make a friend!
Don’t be creepy
Again, this might be a tough one for some people. (you know who you are… or maybe you don’t, which means that you are the creepy one.) If you’re really socially awkward and have NO idea what you’re doing, you’re probably going to come off as creepy. It’s not an attack on you, it’s just a reality. Stick with online purchases and small in store purchases until you get a cashier on your good side.
When you start to make in-store purchases, maybe only buy one or two cards. This way you’ll get practice and start to build that relationship. When Staples was having a gift card sale on Visa gift cards, we bought one card the first visit, two cards the second visit, and then on the third visit we would ask “hey, I’m thinking about buying a few more of these, is there a limit I should know about?” By then you’re no longer creepy. You’re just some cool, chill, dude that remembers their name and things about their life.
Did you know that our local cashier Ian at Staples has a wife, just lost 50 pounds with Weight Watchers, and is studying at night to get an associates degree? We did, because we asked! Now, whenever we want something done, we go straight to Ian and there are never ANY questions asked.
Banks don’t like risk, and they don’t like risky behavior. If you’re running the same credit card for $160, 15 times a day, you’re gonna get shut down or you’re going to be subject to additional questions and review.
Remember, spread the love around the credit cards. Often we head into the field with 10 credit cards and spread them out over various stores in a couple hours period. This way we go from using Chase to Amex to US Bank to Bank of America to Discover to Barclay and then we start right back over again in the same order. You’ll make sure to fly under the radar of your credit card company and hopefully avoid the decline message at the register.
Also, I’d encourage you to pay off those cards ASAP, even before the statement arrives. If you’re going to be racking up big balances on your card, make sure to pay them off as you go. It’ll show your credit cards that you can be responsible with your debt and in turn your score will go up over time.
So, ya ready to get started?
Then go for it! Get out there and look for the deals. Buy your first discount card (or three) and get a feel for how it works. Scale to buying more as you get comfortable with the process, and welcome to the wonderfully exciting world of gift card reselling. May you earn tens of thousands of points and miles! Questions, comments, or concerns? Let us know in the comments below!