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Turn Gift Cards Into Cash

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Chances are you received a gift card this holiday season; eight out of ten shoppers purchased at least one card this year. According to the CEB, an advisory company that tracks gift cards sales, over $118 billion in cards were sold in 2013. There are bound to be many consumers left with a card they may not want. After all, $1.7 billion in gift cards still went unused last year.

Let's look at a few potential ways consumers can sell their unwanted cards and avoid balance expiration. The first, and perhaps the easiest, is to sell your unwanted balances to one of the many online gift card exchanges. Companies like CardPool.com allow consumers to sell back cards for very reasonable prices.

Payouts vary depending on the merchant, but most of the cards will get at least 70 cents on the dollar. Some cards have higher than average payouts if demand for the merchant is high.

Maybe you were one of many consumers who got a Starbucks (SBUX) Card this year and you're really not a big coffee drinker. CardPool will pay out 75 cents on the dollar if you choose to enter the card details online for instant payment via PayPal. You can even do a little better with the card if you mail it, or if you choose an Amazon gift card as payment. Starbucks cards return 80 cents on the dollar using the mail-in method, with an extra 5% bonus added if you choose the Amazon (AMZN) payout.

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