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Cashing In on Gift Cards

Millions of gift cards have morphed from Christmas stocking stuffers to sock drawer dust collectors—an estimated $5 billion worth purchased in 2009 will go unused, predicts research firm TowerGroup. That means now is a good time to cash in on other people’s unwanted presents.

You can buy unwanted gift cards for up to 30 percent less than their face value at websites such as PlasticJungle, GiftCardRescue, GiftCardBuyback, and GiftCardsAgain.

And come Aug. 22, they may become more useful. That’s when the final provisions of the Credit CARD Act take effect, including a ban on inactivity fees on most store-branded gift cards unless they go unused for at least 12 months, and a requirement that most gift cards remain valid for up to five years after their purchase.

You can also sell your unwanted gift cards at most gift card swap sites, generally for 60 to 90 percent of their value. At GiftCards.com, proceeds from your sale can go directly to pay utility or other bills.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

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