It's high school and college graduation season and we know what that means: gift cards. Lots of 'em. (For other graduation gift ideas, see my Sunday column.)
An ever-popular graduation gift, billions of plastic gift certificates are purchased every year - but an estimated $1.7 billion a year sits on gift cards and never gets spent.
For graduates who get too many gift cards to retailers they don't like or want, Nerd Wallet personal finance expert Joseph Audette suggests swapping them.
Sites like CardPool.com, CardCash.com and GiftCardGranny.com let you unload those unwanted cards for cash. The sites cover hundreds of retailers, everyone from Sports Authority and Macy's to Burger King and Starbucks. You can also buy gift cards at a discount off the card's remaining balance.
For instance, CardPool.com will buy your card for up to 92 percent of its value; it sells cards at discounts up to 35 percent off face value. Currently, among dozens of American Eagle gift cards for varying amounts on CardPool.com, a $100 card is listed for $80, a 20 percent discount.
In California, gift cards cannot expire, except in very specific situations. If the gift card's value is less than $10, it can be redeemed at the retailer for cash. But if the company goes out of business, you're basically out of luck.
So if those gift cards are gonna gather dust in a drawer or sit unused in your wallet, exchanging them through an online swapping site could be an answer. Some card-swapping sites have fees; do a comparison before you decide.
And note: One longtime card-swapping service, PlasticJungle.com, announced this month that it is no longer in the business.