Reselling various types of items presents a good opportunity to bring in some extra money. Gift cards often get overlooked in this category, but they can actually be a pretty lucrative business when approached correctly. The profit opportunities may not be as great as with other types of products, but gift cards also don’t require that much work in comparison.
While you definitely can make money reselling gift cards, there are a few caveats you need to be aware of. Your main bottleneck will be acquiring gift cards at a reasonable price. There are ways to secure a relatively stable flow of them, but they all require some work. You don’t have to go that far to still see some profit though. Even at a lower level, reselling gift cards can be a nice source of additional income on the side.
Is Reselling Gift Cards a Good Way to Make Money?
Gift cards are very popular among some consumers, and not just the ones for major brands. It’s not difficult to get started reselling them. You may even have a few lying around. Many people ignore the gift cards they receive as freebies from various purchases and promotions and keep stacking them up, not realizing that they are sitting on pretty valuable items.
The main problem with this type of business is that your profit potential for each individual card is limited to its face value. If you have a gift card for $100, that’s the absolute upper limit to how much you can sell it for. Even 100% value is usually not a reasonable expectation, because if someone is willing to spend the full price on a card, they would just buy it from the company itself and avoid the additional complications introduced by dealing with a private seller.
This means that you have to compensate with a high volume of trades if you want to see any reasonable profit. At some point, this will introduce some problems in scaling your business up. That’s why reselling gift cards is often best kept as a side gig until you’ve learned the ins and outs of the field and have a solid plan for expanding.
Are People Interested in Buying Gift Cards from Private Sellers?
Finding buyers for your gift cards will be no problem most of the time. As long as you stick to popular brands and common denominations – usually between $20 and $100 for most stores – you won’t have to wait long to find an interested buyer.
You will face some challenges initially as you’ll have no reputation on the market. Since gift cards are associated with some popular types of scams (more on that below), people might be wary of you until you’ve built a name for yourself. This makes it important to provide the best service you can to your customers.
Where Can You Get Gift Cards to Resell?
Finding gift cards to resell will be your main obstacle. This is valid when you’re first starting out, and will still be true once you’ve scaled up a bit. Be prepared to see some of your consistent sources disappear quickly. After all, if there was a place where people could consistently buy discounted gift cards, they would only buy them there and not from their original sources.
Many sites and apps offer the opportunity to earn gift cards for completing certain small tasks. These often involve filling out surveys, downloading apps, or simply spending your money on specific products. You will always have to invest something, whether it’s your time or your money being spent on products you had no intention of buying.
Some examples of these include:
Free Goodies from Retailers
Some retailers will also throw in free gift cards when you purchase from them. Depending on the value of your purchase, those can sometimes be pretty good catches. If you’re buying something more expensive, like building a new gaming PC, watch out for free gift cards included with your package(s).
Occasionally, you can also find gift cards for sale at a discounted price at their original marketplaces. Large retail stores are very good for this, as they run frequent promotions on their gift cards. Online stores do it more rarely, but it’s still possible to snatch some good deals, especially with sites like Amazon during the holidays.
Keep in mind that these discounted gift cards sometimes come with some strings attached, like a tighter redemption window. You may have to resell them quickly to avoid incurring significant losses once they’ve expired and are no longer worth anything.
Friends and Family
See if any friends and family members have any gift cards they’re looking to get rid of. Be upfront about what you’re doing, because otherwise you can get into significant long-term trouble and ruin otherwise good relationships. Offer people some money for their cards, but try to keep the value low enough that it will still allow you to make some profit.
Many people are surprisingly willing to just give you their unwanted gift cards for free. Some see them as a form of spam and just pile them up in a drawer or shoebox somewhere in the house, never touching them at all. They might be happy to just have an opportunity to get rid of those cards without any hassle.
Where to Sell Gift Cards?
Obtaining gift cards at reduced prices is one part of the equation. You also need to know where you can sell them. Popular common options like online marketplaces and social media are always a good starting point, though you should also look into more specialized stores at some point if you want to maximize your profit potential and speed things up.
The easiest way to sell your gift cards, especially in bulk, is to use various online marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist. The most important thing here is to pay attention to your seller profile and your reputation. You must always do your best to resolve conflicts with buyers as smoothly as possible. A few dings to your reputation, which would normally not harm a regular seller much, can be devastating for someone dealing with gift cards.
That’s because, as we mentioned, they are associated with scams and suspicious behavior. People will be immediately turned away from your profile if they see even a few small signs that you’re not doing that well. And once you’ve received that negative feedback, it can be difficult to climb back up to a respectable state.
Social media platforms are also a good place to sell your gift cards. Facebook groups are especially useful in this regard. There are even some groups dedicated to swapping gift cards, which can help you not only unload your current ones, but also find new ones to resell at a reasonable price.
Keep in mind that many social media groups and marketplaces tend to be heavily moderated when it comes to gift cards specifically. Make sure to observe any rules they have in place and don’t go overboard with promoting yourself.
You’re participating in a market where trust is an ongoing problem, and you should do your best to avoid burning any bridges early in your career as a gift card reseller. Especially since you don’t know which of these groups might turn out to be a lucrative source of revenue in the future.
Some online stores specialize in gift cards. Some of those work like eBay, where all trades are done between members of the site, while with others, you sell your gift cards directly to the store. This is a broad market and it’s a good idea to spend some time examining the different marketplaces available until you’ve found something that works for your case.
Here are some examples of stores you can get started with. Those are just some of the most popular ones, but there are various other opportunities out there to explore:
You should make it a habit to advertise your business to people in your immediate circles as well. Some of those connections can turn into reliable long-term opportunities if you know the right people. For example, avid gamers will always be interested in saving money on Steam and other marketplaces, and will usually readily buy any gift cards you’re selling for those stores.
You can combine this with your social media marketing. Mention that you’re open to individual, private sales when you post ads in the groups you participate in. As we mentioned above though, make sure that you don’t violate any rules of those groups by doing that. Some groups are very strict about how trades are supposed to proceed, and insist that everything is above the table.
How Much Can You Expect to Make Reselling Gift Cards?
Reselling gift cards has a very tight profit margin. Since you’re limited to the card’s value as the absolute upper limit you can sell it for, that usually doesn’t leave you with a lot of room for experimenting. For most cards, you won’t be able to secure a stable source that allows you to purchase them significantly below market value. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have any customers for those cards in the first place, as people will just buy them from the same source.
And as we already mentioned, even the card’s full value is something you will pretty much never be able to get. 90-95% of the original value is as high as most people would go before they decide to just go to the original store instead.
With most cards, you should be aiming to resell them at around 80-90% of their value. Sometimes you might be willing to raise the price a little. If a particular store is running limited promotions, for example, people might readily buy cards for that store at a slightly higher price – but still, never over 100%.
You can also benefit from limited supply situations. If a store isn’t able to meet the demand of its customers for whatever reason, this might be a good period to unload some of its cards for a very high price. Depending on the cause and duration of the shortage, you might occasionally even be able to sell your cards at 100% of their value.
The value of the cards is another factor that will limit your profit opportunities. Most people are looking for cards in the $20 – $100 range. While it is possible to sell more expensive cards, it will take longer and you may be stuck with them for quite a while until you see a return on your investment.
When setting up any kind of business, your long-term goal should be to figure out ways to scale things up and automate the process as much as possible. Unfortunately, reselling gift cards is not the best market for this. With profit margins that thin, and supplies generally being very limited, you will find it hard to elevate this above the level of a side gig.
Automating is also going to be a challenge. Setting up your own storefront for one-click purchases is overkill for most gift card resellers. Hiring people to work under you is also going to be a challenge due to the profit margins you work with.
If you want to try turning this into a full-time job, your best bet is to identify lucrative niches that have not been explored that much by your competitors. Those are always temporary though, and you will have to be constantly on the lookout for new opportunities, which may not always be available.
The Problem with Scams
You will also have to deal with a problem that will constantly interfere with your business. Gift cards are associated with some of the most popular scams at the moment. Many scammers get their victims to buy high-value gift cards instead of money, as it’s a safer way to steal money over the phone.
And while their “business model” is quite different from what you’ll be doing, that won’t help put some people’s minds at ease. Some people are just automatically going to assume that you’re doing something shady if you announce that you’re dealing with gift cards.
Keep that in mind when presenting yourself to the world. Make sure your profile is spotless, always address any concerns as soon as they arise, and don’t let problems snowball into bigger issues that draw a lot of negative attention to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I hold on to gift cards indefinitely until there’s a good opportunity to sell?
Some gift cards expire faster than others, while some may have practically unlimited redemption periods. Federal law sets the minimum expiry date at five years after the purchase. However, if you’re buying your cards from sellers other than the original store, it’s possible that the clock is already ticking as they may have been in stock for a while.
What should I do if a gift card purchased by one of my customers fails?
This is a delicate situation with no “one size fits all” answer. You must generally make an honest effort to resolve the situation and reimburse your customer if things fall through. But be wary of scams – if the same person tries to return more than one gift card (especially for different stores), they may be being dishonest with you.
So what do you think? Is this side hustle for you?
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What's up ladies and dudes! Great to finally meet you, and I hope you enjoyed this post. My name is Nathaniell and I'm the owner of One More Cup of Coffee. I started my first online business in 2010 promoting computer software and now I help newbies start their own businesses. Sign up for my #1 recommended training course and learn how to start your business for FREE!
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