**Updated 4/24/20 Coinstar no longer has the Coinstar Exchange kiosks to trade in gift cards. It was great while it lasted!
93 Percent of Americans buy or receive gift cards of all kinds every year. I myself spend hundreds of dollars on Amazon gift cards every year.
From clothing stores to online retailers to movie theaters, Americans spend over $100 billion annually on gift cards.
However, many of these valuable gift cards often go to waste. Some people forget they have a gift card, do not use the entire balance, or may simply not like the store or service they received the card for. In fact, more than $1 billion in gift cards go unredeemed every year.
The average American household has around $300 in unused gift cards.
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This is money literally going down the drain!
In the past, unused gift cards were often discarded into a random drawer or wallet, forgotten and lost.
Recently there have been a wave of websites offering to buy unused gift cards but the process is often tedious. Most of the sites require a lot of information and only offer a fraction of what the card is worth. Even more irritating is the fact that consumers usually have to wait to receive their payment.
Some people turn to online classifieds such as Craigslist to sell their gift cards for cash. While these transactions may get you the cash you want faster, it will probably be far less than the card is worth.
Luckily, a new service recently launched by popular coin return kiosk company, CoinStar, will now exchange gift cards for cash instantly on site.
The service, called CoinStar Exchange, makes selling your gift cards a breeze – the kiosks accept gift cards from over 150 popular retailers and restaurants.
The best part is that the tall yellow kiosks are placed right inside stores you already shop at, meaning you can sell a gift card and shop right away!
How It Works
Here’s how it works: start off by finding a kiosk near you here.
Take your gift card (or cards, the kiosk can accept more than one gift card at a time) to the kiosk and swipe it through the magnetic card reader. To prevent fraud or other crimes, you will need to verify your identity, so make sure to bring a government-issued identification card.
Once the Coinstar Exchange has everything it needs, it will show you a cash offer for your gift card(s). If you accept the offer, insert your gift card(s) into the kiosk. The machine will then print a paper voucher, which you then bring to a store associate to receive your cash.
It’s that simple!
CoinStar Exchange’s innovative kiosks are an exciting move for the American public, especially those in the millennial generation, as more and more people want to shop on their own terms.
Despite the fact that 98 percent of teenagers have either purchased or received a gift card, only 40 percent of recipients do use the entire value on the card.
The fact of the matter is that most people would rather have cash as a gift, but etiquette frowns upon asking for this up front. Therefore, people switch to gift cards. And even though they are often received with great enthusiasm, they may not always be used. Moreover, if they are used, the entire balance may not be spent in one trip.
Look around your house – you will probably find at least a few gift cards that have a small balance but not enough to make a trip to the store worth it (think luxury brands like Coach or Saks Fifth Avenue).
55 Percent of Americans do not use the entire value of their gift card in their first visit, meaning there’s a good chance you may have a money-making opportunity on your hands.
Dig around for those random cards and make your way to a Coinstar Exchange to exchange gift cards for cash instantly.
If you want to be certain that your gift card is one that they accept, you can check out their list of accepted retailers on the site.
To be sure though, the company recommends visiting your local kiosk, as offers may be regional.
Maximize Your Return By Signing up for Personalized Service
Want an even better way to get the most out of those unused gift cards?
Sign up for a MyCoinstar account!
These free accounts give you more tools to track both CoinStar and CoinStar Exchange transactions. You will also have access to exclusive special offers via email, putting you ahead of the game and ready to get the maximum value for your change and unwanted gift cards.
With its easy to use website, MyCoinstar ensures that customers receive the best possible service in a quick and convenient way.
There are only a couple of downfalls at this point with regards to the new CoinStar Exchange kiosks.
1- The first is that any gift card you wish to sell must have a minimum balance of $20. In many cases, people have very small amounts on their gift cards – especially for big box retailers or restaurants. However, the average amount put on gift cards is $25 so if you receive a gift card to a pizza place and you are now on a strict no-carb diet, the situation could still be lucrative.
2- The other issue i that since CoinStar Exchange is still relatively new, they are not in every market yet. It may take some time before you see them your local grocery or drug store. However, as the popularity of the gift card sales process continues to grow, so will the demand for these convenient kiosks across the country.
This is an exciting service to look forward to, but if you’re still stuck in a place where are no kiosks – wait patiently.
Overall CoinStar Exchange is a fast and convenient way to exchange gift cards for cash instantly.
The kiosks accept cards from over 150 different popular shops and restaurants, from Applebee’s to Zumiez.
The service is beneficial for many people, from teens looking to exchange their gift cards in order to get the newest and hippest items to folks who have a few old cards lying around collecting dust.
There is money to be made on these gift cards, so don’t let them go to waste!