How to Sell, Trade, or Donate Those Gift Cards You'll Never Use

iStock / AnthonyRosenberg
iStock / AnthonyRosenberg

There's a reason gift cards line the aisles of nearly every big-box retailer, grocery market, and drugstore: annually, they are an estimated $130 billion industry, with nearly $30 billion of that coming in during the holiday season. They're efficient and generally customizable, but what happens when grandma sends you an Outback Steakhouse card, not knowing you went vegan this year?

Have no fear, there are a few ways to deal with those extra cards that you don't plan on ever using. The first thing to know, according to fraud.org, is that you probably aren't going to get full value of the gift card you choose to sell. If you do, it is likely a scam. The FTC reports that there has been a nearly 270 percent increase in reports of gift card fraud cases over the last three years.

Rather than going to sites that don't offer enough consumer protection (like Craigslist or eBay), check out specialty sites that can give you a high value on return. On Gift Card Granny, you can get a certain amount back depending on how desirable the card is, as well as find sales on other cards you may want to buy.

If you're looking for quick cash, Cardpool offers up to 92 percent of the value of your card if you take the instant payment option, and guarantees it will pay sellers within one business day. CardCash also offers up to 92 percent cash back, as well the option to trade your card to multiple other retailers for more potential value.

If you prefer the option of in-person transactions, WalletHub recommends using Coinstar for the most effective results. The site also ranked the cards that offered the best exchange rates, with Walmart landing the top spot followed by the Apple Store and Red Lobster.

Of course, if you're feeling charitable, a number of organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army accept unused gift card balances. And for a digital option, the website CharityChoice allows you to donate gift cards to more than 1000 nonprofit organizations.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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What Movie Do You Want to Watch? This Website Analyzes Film Critic Reviews to Help You Choose

She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
Rowan Jordan/iStock via Getty Images

Much like sommeliers can detect subtle notes of who-knows-what in a sip of wine, film critics are fantastic at identifying influences and drawing parallels between movies. Cinetrii is a handy website that crowdsources all that movie knowledge to help you find your next favorite film.

Basically, you enter the name of a movie you enjoyed in the search bar, and the site will show you a node graph with film recommendations splintering off the search query. Click on one, and you’ll see a quote from a critic (or critics) who referenced the films together. This way, you get a list of recommendations based on different aspects of the movie, and you get to decide for yourself what you’d like to see more of.

If, for example, you were blown away by the special effects in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, you might like Doctor Strange; according to Variety, it boasts “a staggering visual effects innovation, in which the building-bending seen in Christopher Nolan’s Inception is taken to an extreme that would blow even M.C. Escher’s mind.” If what the Chicago Tribune calls an “elegant brain-bender” quality appealed to you more, The Matrix might be a perfect fit.

Films above your search query were released before the movie you typed in, while films below came out after it. The shorter the line, the more closely the films are related, as calculated by the website’s algorithm. And, as Lifehacker points out, that algorithm doesn’t give any special treatment to massive Hollywood blockbusters, so Cinetrii is an especially great way to find hidden gems. Because it shows you the critics' actual quotes, you’re not left to wonder why a certain film landed on the recommendations list—which can’t always be said for “Watch next” lists on streaming services.

You can explore Cinetrii here.

[h/t Lifehacker]