Unwanted Gifts: Sell, Swap or Return?

We've all received gifts we don't really need or want, and so as you review your holiday duds this season - and you know you've probably gotten at least one - here are some tips to help you easily navigate returns, as well as some other strategies to deal with unwanted gifts.

Returns Made Simple

According to a recent Consumer Reports poll, one in five adults will spend at least two hours dealing with returns this year. To lessen the hassle, keep in mind that returns are easiest when you've got a receipt. Without it, you could get rejected or, due to post-holiday sales, just get store credit for the now discounted value of the item. There are some exceptions: Nordstrom and Bloomingdales, for example, "sticker" their merchandise at the time of purchase with a special tag that proves the date and original purchase price, which they well honor when you return the item. Also make sure to bring your government-issued ID, as some companies require it along with a receipt to track cash returns.

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Returning Without a Receipt

If you don't have a receipt, at least still keep the gift intact in its original packaging to score the most store credit. In some cases, stores charge a 15% restocking fee for opened items. But a bit of good news: Best Buy, a notorious enforcer of this fee, recently changed its policy.

Watch Return Deadlines

Also, pay attention to return deadlines. While many big merchants offer 90 days, with some items, especially electronics, you may have a shorter window. Stores like Ebay, Office Max and Apple for example, have a 14-day return policy.

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Get Cash

If you prefer cold hard cash in exchange for unwanted gifts, start by targeting the best websites. Some of my favorites include: BuyMyTronics.com, NextWorth and Gazelle - best for unloading unwanted electronics. For clothes, try RecycleYourFashions.com. Of course, there are brick-and-mortar consignment shops, too. Check out NARTS.org to find one in your area.

Cash In Gift Cards

As for unwanted gift cards, visit Giftcards.com and Plastic Jungle. They'll pay cash for your undesired gift cards, up to 85% of their face value. You could always re-gift gift cards. Just of course make sure the gift recipient likes the store and also call the number on the back to verify the card's value.

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Speaking of re-gifting, before you feel bad about it know this: the most consumers admit to re-gifting and plan to do so in the future. What's more, new research shows that the original giver of the gift doesn't care as much as we think if his or her present gets re-gifted. Or you could always go for a swap! Thanks to the web, this has gotten much easier to do over the years.

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Swap Your Gift

A growing number of websites facilitate bartering or swapping, often for a small fee. For example, at Swap.com you can trade practically anything from toys to movies to video games. SwapStyle.com, Rehash and Dig 'N' Swap offer clothing swaps.


Last but certainly not least, you can always donate your unwanted gifts. Perhaps the noblest of these options, it could also helps with next year's tax returns.

As always, we want to hear from you. What are some ways you deal with unwanted gifts? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh, and use the hashtag FinFit. For Y! Shine, I'm Farnoosh Torabi.