Can You Return a Gift Card If You Don't Use It? Here's What You Can and Can't Do

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Even the most well-intentioned gift-giving plans can sometimes go awry. For example, you may have purchased a gift card for a loved one, only to find out that someone else has already bought one for them. If you're suddenly stuck with an unwanted card full of cash that you'd prefer to be back in your bank account, you're probably thinking, "Can you return gift cards?"

There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer, as all stores have different return policies. However, there are a few ways you can exchange a gift card for something you can use. Here's what to keep in mind.

Can you return a gift card?

The ability to return a gift card all depends on the store you bought it from.

A lot of retailers (like Amazon, Target, Lowe's, and Sephora) state in their terms and conditions that their gift cards, both physical and digital, are nonrefundable. For the most part, companies tend not to allow the return of gift cards unless required by state law (more on that below.)

There are exceptions, though. For example, Gap allows customers to return unused physical gift cards and cancel scheduled e-gift cards for a refund.

Can you exchange gift card money for cash?

There are websites, like Raise or CardCash, that let you exchange gift card money for cash. However, it's unlikely that you'll receive back the full amount that's on the card.

Raise lets you sell your own gift card at a discount and will pay you through PayPal or direct deposit if someone buys your card. CardCash sells your card for you, and you can choose whether you want your refund in the form of a mailed check, PayPal Express payment, ACH payment, a prepaid Mastercard, or a gift card to a different retailer. Keep in mind that both Raise and CardCash take a portion of your unwanted gift card amount in exchange for this service.

Finally, in certain states, you can exchange your gift card balance for cash. However, the amounts are very low — for example, California caps its cash payout for gift cards at just under $10.

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