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If you have unused gift cards that you’re not going to use, you can turn them into cash. And if you want to buy gift cards, you can get them at a discount. Where can you do this? Raise. We checked it out for you and here is our Raise review.
One Size Fits All
It’s no wonder that gift cards have become so popular. We see them as the go-to gift when we can’t think of what to buy for someone or when we need a gift for someone we don’t know very well like a child’s teacher.
But sometimes even a gift card isn’t an ideal gift. Maybe we don’t shop at the store or eat in the restaurant the gift card is from. What can you do? In the past, not much. You either tossed the gift card unused into a drawer or maybe re-gifted it to someone else. But now you have another option for those unused gift cards.
What is Raise?
Raise is an online marketplace that allows you to sell and buy gift cards. You can sell gift cards for cash and buy them for a discount.
Selling Gift Cards
Selling unused or partially used gift cards or store credits at Raise is a bit like selling things on eBay. You as the seller gets to set the price.
You can sell a gift card from more than 3,000 stores and restaurants, and not all of them are big, nationally available chains so if you have a gift card from a business local to your area, you may still be able to sell it on Raise. I saw a lot of stores and restaurants that I know are only local to areas I have lived in listed on Raise.
If you have a gift card for a retailer that you don’t see listed on the site, you can still make a listing for it. Then Raise will decide if it’s approved, so it’s worth a shot.
Some of the 3,000 retailers include Chico’s, Nautica, and P.C Richards which are mostly located in the New York City area. Restaurants include Dairy Queen, Five Guys, and Golden Corral.
There are even travel retailers like Carnival Cruises, Omni Hotels, and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Plenty of spas and gas stations too.
You can’t sell gift cards or store credits that have an expiration date or charge fees to use.
To sell a gift card, you will enter the serial number, a PIN if the card has one, and the available balance. If you have used a portion of the gift card already, you can sell a card with the remaining balance.
If you don’t know the balance, Raise makes it easy to find out. They have links or telephone numbers for thousands of retailers and restaurants so you can check the balance of a gift card. Make sure you get the number right because Raise will verify the amount before they list your card for sale.
It really is a comprehensive list; there are hundreds and hundreds of listings, everything from 1-800 Flowers to Zulilly.
You can’t sell a physical gift card worth less than $10 or more than $2,000. An eGift card can have a balance between $5-2,000.
Once you list your card, Raise will run it through their verification process. Most cards will appear on the site for sale within a few hours of being listed.
Once you enter the remaining balance, you will see the price Raise suggests you sell your gift card for. Of course, you are free to set any price you want, but a competitively priced card is more likely to sell.
If you have a card that isn’t selling at the price you initially set when you listed it, you can log into your account and change the amount at any time.
Once the card sells, you have three business days to send it to the buyer.
Raise charges sellers a 12% fee at the time of purchase. If you are selling a physical gift card, there is an additional charge of $1 or 1% of the card’s value, whichever is greater. If you are selling gift cards in bulk, Raise will reduce the fee.
Raise will provide a pre-paid label so you can send the card to the buyer at no cost to either of you.
When you sell an eGift card, you can avoid that $1 service fee. You can list a physical gift card and Raise will determine if it can be converted in an eGift card.
If it’s possible, Raise will automatically list and deliver your card as an eGift card which is great because you save that fee and don’t have to bother mailing a physical card and worry about it getting lost.
Raise does advise you to keep the physical gift card that was converted to an eGift card for 180 days in case there is a problem, and they need to reference information on the actual card.
You will see the actual amount of money you will earn after the fees when you enter your price.
You will also be required to provide a credit or debit card number. If the card is not worth the balance you listed or there is some other problem with it, you will be charged and the money refunded to the buyer under Raise’s guarantee program.
You have three options for you payouts from Raise. You can choose to have your money direct deposited; Raise will mail you a paper check (this is the option that takes the longest, up to 14 days), or via PayPal (which can take up to three business days).
Raise will notify you via email when a gift card you’ve listed has sold, and your money is available to withdrawal. Log into your account and go to the Available Funds section. From there you can decide how much money you want to be paid, you can take out all of the amount or just part of it, much like you can with PayPal.
Most of us are probably just looking to clean out our junk drawers and wallets of the few gift cards we’ve had hanging around forever. But for those who are going to sell more than just a few or gift cards with very high balances, you may face some tax implications.
If you sell more than $2,500 in gift cards you may have to submit a state ID, W9 or ACH Direct Deposit account information to Raise to make sure that payouts are tax compliant.
For those who earn more than $20,000 in a calendar year or more than 200 gift cards (regardless of the dollar total), Raise will send you a 1099 form.
Buying Gift Cards
If you are looking for a specific gift card, Raise probably has it. There are thousands to choose from. You can search by brand, by dollar amount, type, either physical or eGift cards, by category and by location.
I was excited to shop the gift cards by location because I was hoping to score some discounted gift cards to local New Orleans restaurants to use at home and local New York City restaurants for my trip back to see friends later this month.
So I was pretty disappointed to see that the only location is Chicago. Raise is located in Chicago, so I guess that’s why. Oh well, you may still be able to find gift cards to your local area, but you will have to search by the name of the retailer or restaurant rather than being able to browse through an available list.
There are 26 categories to choose from including some unusual ones. You can find the usual like Books and Magazines, Department Stores, and Food and Beverage and those include places like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, Bloomingdale’s and Lord and Taylor, Kroger and Fresh Market.
Some of the more unusual categories are Education, Finance and Business, and Relationship Services. Education had gift cards for Teachers Pay Teachers, Finance and Business had Stockpile gift cards, and Relationship Services had Groupon.
There is no option to search for cards by the amount of the discount. And the discounts show the quirks of individual sellers. You can find plenty of gift cards that offer no discount at all. A $50 Whole Foods gift card costs $50.
Well, why would anyone pay full price and take the chance that the gift card isn’t mailed to them when they could go to Whole Foods and get the card themselves or order it from Amazon?
I did find some good deals though. Someone is selling a $250 H&M gift card at 18.6% off so it can be yours for $203.50. It’s summertime, and that means ice cream. You can buy a $25 Cold Stone Creamery gift card at 27.2% off so it will cost you just $18.21.
Buyers don’t pay any fees, sales tax, or shipping costs, so the price you see listed is the price you pay.
If you want to pay with your PayPal account, you will have to buy your gift cards through Raise’s mobile app. You can also pay with Apple Pay, Android, and Samsung Pay, and with a credit or debit card.
Most eGift cards and vouchers for store credit are delivered to you Raise account instantly. If there is additional verification required, it can take up to 24 hours. Physical gift cards are delivered within 3-14 business days.
Money Back Guarantee
Each card that Raise sells comes with a one-year money back guarantee. If a gift card you buy is not active, has a different balance than the seller listed it with, is for a different retailer than the one you ordered, or is not received within 30 days from the date you placed your order, Raise will refund the entire amount of your purchase.
Raise will give you a referral code which you can send to your contacts. If someone uses your code when making a purchase within 30 days of signing up, you will have $5 in rewards added to your account. You can earn $100 in referral rewards each calendar year.
Pros of Raise
There are several things to like about Raise. It’s great to have a place to buy and sell gift cards for retailers and restaurants that aren’t big, national chains. Many people prefer to support small, local businesses and Raise lets you do that while still saving some money.
You can buy and sell gift cards from almost anywhere. If a seller doesn’t see a card they want to sell listed, they can ask Raise to verify it. If the card is verified, it can be sold. This also gives buyers many more choices than they might find on other gift card marketplace sites.
Raise sometimes offer special discounts. Over Memorial Day weekend, all gift cards came with an additional 5% discount. Raise also has a section for gift cards that are on sale. Recently they were offering an additional 1% off cards from 16 retailers including Gap, Macy’s, Spa Finder, and Hulu.
If a physical gift card can be converted to an eGift card, Raise will do it which means the seller doesn’t have to bother mailing the card and the seller doesn’t have to wait for it.
Sellers are free to set their own price. Of course, they may not be able to sell a gift card for their chosen price, but they can always go back into their account and change it. Sellers can have their money almost instantly if they choose to be paid via direct deposit or PayPal.
Cons of Raise
Some sellers may balk at paying the 12% fee that Raise charges sellers. If you have gift cards to sell and don’t want to pay a fee you could always try to sell the cards yourself on a site like Facebook or Next Door.
Sometimes convenience matters more to me than money so I wouldn’t mind paying the 12% since Raise is providing me with such a big pool of sellers compared to what I’m going to have if I try to sell cards on my own.
I have previously written a review of Cardpool, another site where you can buy and sell gift cards, and I sold my gift card there, so I didn’t have any to sell on Raise. I did buy a $20 Sephora gift card for just 6% off which was the best discount I could find.
The card cost $18.80. I thought I would use it to buy something to keep my hair from frizzing up. It’s a vain hope in summertime New Orleans, but I’m always ridiculously optimistic that I am just one more purchase away from finding that miracle in a bottle that won’t make my hair look like a cotton ball that’s been brushed out with a wire dog brush. I chose to buy an eGift card so I could order what I needed online.
The whole transaction went perfectly smoothly. I can’t say the same for my hair. Sigh. The struggle is real, and the search goes on!
While researching this piece, I did definitely notice that Raise has much better customer reviews than Cardpool. I was much less nervous about using Raise than I was using Cardpool and advised readers just to start out doing small transactions if they were going to use Cardpool and were nervous too. I also suggest readers not to give out their debit number but to use a credit card instead as credit cards provide more consumer protections than do debit cards.
I have no such warnings about Raise. The next time I have gift cards to sell, I will choose to sell them on Raise even with the 12% seller’s fee. If you are looking for the best place to buy and sell gift cards, look no further than Raise.