Is Buying and Selling Gift Cards Online Too Risky?

by Kevin on February 28, 2013

Last week I told you about my experiences buying and selling gift cards online through reselling companies like Plastic Jungle, GiftcardRescue, and Cardpool. The reason these companies are sometimes called scams is because it is hard to track and have a gift card returned to you. A simple mistake — or even the mail carrier stealing your package — can result in your gift card disappearing forever. And each website has terms that essentially say we don’t owe you anything until we have a confirmed valid gift card in our hands.

Does that make buying and selling used gift cards too risky to partake in?

Should I Risk Buying Used Gift Cards Online?

I absolutely recommend buying gift cards online from a reseller. None of the cards I’ve purchased have been emptied out before I used them. None of them were canceled due to being involved with credit card scams. 100% of the cards I have purchased have been accepted by the retailer without any issue whatsoever.

I highly recommend using a credit card with great customer service (like American Express) to purchase used gift cards online. Some merchants hate AMEX because they almost always side with the dissatisfied customer, but that benefits you in this case. If you have any problems with your purchase and the reseller isn’t communicating well, just do a chargeback on your account. Let the credit card company fight on your behalf with the reseller without leaving you holding the bag. I can’t see any significant risk to buying used gift cards online as long as you are paying with a credit card.

Should I Risk Selling Used Gift Cards Online?

This is a little more tricky. If I could sell all of my cards in person without any hassle (nearly impossible; thanks Craigslist) I would. I’m guessing I would have better margins, too thanks to saving on shipping and being able to charge a little bit more for a face to face transaction. However, it is incredibly inconvenient to do this. And you’re not free of scams then either; someone might try to rob you or pass you counterfeit money… or just try to offer you less money in person.

You just have to be careful with selling online. Don’t take every negative review to heart; if the person can’t type without significant spelling and grammar mistakes then I’m going to assume they did something wrong in the transaction.

Protect yourself. Take photos of all of the card numbers with all of the documentation for the reseller. Don’t sell a ton of cards all at once and in one postal package to reduce the risk of theft. If you run into problems or delays be cordial, but firm. And if you still don’t get resolution then call the store the gift card is for and claim is lost/stolen to get a new number issued to you. (That’s where having photos of the cards and a listing of card numbers helps out. I can’t guarantee you’ll get a new card issued to you 100% of the time, but it might work.)

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I always have a little bit of trepidation when I drop off another package of gift cards in the mail. They are, essentially, cash. But I’ve — knock on wood — yet to run into a problem selling the cards. I don’t make a habit of buying and selling cards, but when I see the opportunity to make a profit I take it.


Sun February 28, 2013 at 8:19 am

if you’re going to sell, cardpool or plasticjungle is a better bet than individuals and only sell them the electronic code.

Fernando R March 13, 2013 at 10:19 am

I personally have never bought any gift cards online. Now that I think of it I might be a little skeptical about purchasing used gift-cards. I see the point you are making about letting the credit card company fight the case in a scam situation but still I don’t find the gamble worth the stress in such case. But I learned from this post about the option to buy used gift cards online. Good stuff!

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