By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
Gift cards are one of the most popular gift items over the holidays, as evidenced by a survey from Bankrate. The survey found that 84% of Americans have received a gift card. However, with the popularity of gift cards over the holiday season, many recipients may be left holding unwanted gift cards to stores they can't use or don't want, and a report from advisory group CEB TowerGroup found that more than $1 billion worth of gift cards are left unused each year. Online there are a number of gift card buying companies, including Card Cash, a new partner in Walmart's latest customer offering. Walmart and Card Cash have teamed up to offer consumers a Walmart eGift Card in exchange for gift cards for other retailers, such as Amazon, Target, Chipolte and Office Depot.
The companies launched Walmart.CardCash.com on Christmas Day and are accepting gift card trade-ins from over 200 retailers, representing a variety of consumer categories such as restaurants, clothiers, children's products and more. Visitors to the Walmart-branded website can choose the retailer of their unwanted gift card and the card's current balance to receive an offer for the card. Offers available are up to 97% of the value of original gift card, though those rates could change as more gift cards are added into the exchange. The website doesn't require any information beyond the retailer name and card amount for an offer, and then the consumer can choose whether to accept or reject the offer.
Once they decide they'd like to accept the card exchange's offer, consumers need to enter a gift card's full card number and personal identification number (PIN). The website will then present an eGift Card to the consumer after approval, which is estimated to have no more than 24 hours of waiting time. The eGift Card can be used at Walmart retail stores, plus Sam's Club and Neighborhood Market locations, as well as Walmart.com and SamsClub.com.
It's interesting to note that cards for Walmart's competitors, namely Amazon and Target, are giving consumers the highest e-Gift card value. Last year, Walmart posted low second quarter sales, but rebounded a bit in the third quarter, however, the retailer is still in a battle with dollar stores over offering the best bargain for consumer dollars. This new move to remove competitor gift cards from the hands of its customers means Walmart is capturing a portion of the post-Christmas sales away from Target and Amazon. It's also a win for consumers who are looking to purchase a variety of consumer products, such as grocery or home items, rather than the small categories available at retailers like Barnes & Noble or Pottery Barn. The bought gift cards will be placed for sale on CardCash.com. Neither company has announced how long the exchange will last, but the Walmart eGift Cards offered don't expire.
“We recognized that this was an opportunity,” says Ravi Jariwala, a Walmart spokesperson. “A large number [of gift cards] don't get redeemed. We figured this was a good way to get gift cards in the hands of more customers.”