Churning merchant gift cards


Buying and selling discount gift cards is a good option if you are looking to increase credit card spending in order to qualify for sign-up bonuses, gain bonus miles or elite status from high spend, or simply to earn credit card rewards (cash back, miles, points, etc.).  In the post “Top 20 best value gift cards” I showed that it is sometimes possible to buy gift cards for the same price or less than you can sell them.  A big advantage of merchant gift cards for buying and selling is that they are usually sold with no shipping or handling costs and with no sales tax.  By wisely buying and selling gift cards it is possible to drive up spending on your credit cards and get most, if not all, of your money back for paying off the bills.

My first stop is always which maintains up to date buy and sell prices for a number of gift card resellers.  Through careful scouting of this site, it is possible to find cards that you can sell for about the same price as you will buy.

Below are my experiences with buying and selling discount gift cards from several online gift card resellers:


PlasticJungle is probably the best known gift card re-seller.  I haven’t yet bought any cards from PlasticJungle, but I did sell one without any problem.  They provided a shipping label which I printed and affixed to a regular letter sized envelope.  I mailed the gift card and received a check in about a week.  If you’re thinking of buying from them, consider going through FatWallet to get an extra 1% cash back from your transaction.  Also note that, while I had no problems, a few readers have complained in the past about issues dealing with PlasticJungle.  There is a reasonable chance that these issues were due to growing pains.  Hopefully they have things running smoothly now.

Through I ordered a $99.00 Home Depot electronic gift card for $89.89 (9.2% off face value).  After they called me to check my identity, I received the gift card via email.  They told me that the phone call was only needed for my first order.  Overall, the process was simple, fast, and painless.

I also sold a gift card to CardPool.  Like PlasticJungle, CardPool paid for postage and I received a check promptly.  In both cases (buying and selling), I first went through the ShopAtHome cash-back portal.  ShopAtHome offers .8% cash back when you buy gift cards from and 1.6% cash back when you sell gift cards to  In both cases, cash back appeared as pending within a few days.  The amazing thing was that the cash back percentages turned out to be percentages of the gift card’s face value, not the transaction amount!

One of the neat things about is that if your gift card has a PIN, you can sell them the gift card electronically by entering the gift card # and PIN into their website.  There is no need to mail anything!  The best part is that doesn’t lower the sale price when you sell to them electronically as some other resellers do.  So, in the same day that I bought a Home Depot e-gift card from, I was able to sell it to!  By going through the cash back portal, MyDealsAndCoupons, I was able to get 3.2% cash back on the sale of the gift card!  Just like with ShopAtHome, the cash back was a percentage of the gift card’s face value, not the transaction amount.  Much like PlasticJungle and, with I received a check in about a week.


Buying and selling gift cards on EBay is very different than with the companies listed above.  When selling on EBay, you need to factor in EBay’s pretty hefty seller fees (EBay + Paypal fees come to about 11.75%) and you do need to pay for shipping or pass along that cost to the purchaser.  I sold one gift card on EBay and it went OK.  I managed to get a bit more for the card than I would have through a gift card reseller, but it was definitely quite a bit more hassle. 

I’ve also bought a few gift cards on EBay.  There are several advantages to buying gift cards on EBay over other gift card resellers: 1) You can pay with an EBay gift card and it is often possible to get points or cash back for purchasing EBay gift cards; 2) You can sometimes get better discounts than from other resellers; 3) You get 2% back in the form of EBay bucks; and 4) You can use EBay bucks to pay for gift cards.  On the other hand, there are serious downsides: 1) You never know if the seller is honest (see Washing Walmart); and 2) It can take a very long time for gift cards to be shipped and delivered. 

So far I’ve been lucky, and my EBay experiences have been fine.  I’ll continue to buy gift cards on EBay because of the significant benefits, but I’ll stay away from selling due to the extra hassle. 

Please share

Do you have gift card buying or selling experience? What has worked well for you and where have things gone wrong?  Please share your experiences in the comments below.

a close up of a logo
Stay informed:
Follow me on Twitter / Like me on Facebook

If you’re new to Frequent Miler, please start here

Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] curious about buying gift cards and earning cash back and stumbled upon Frequent Miler’s post on buying and selling gift cards.  I was instantly […]


asfasdfa: If you make a profit, you should technically report that to the IRS. There shouldn’t be any sales tax implications since gift cards aren’t subject to sales tax.

[…] under $10 and cash them all out.  In essence, this is a way of “gift card churning” as Frequent Miler would say.  I’ve never done this to the extreme as it can take a lot of effort and time, but […]


any tax implications?

john wrangler

I’m with a lot of you on here, fed up with Cardpool and Plastic Jungle. A friend recently told me about I’ve sold a few hundred dollars worth of cards to them and they treat me great. They get me the money within a day (often within hours!!) and actually respond to emails when I have problems. I love it.

As for Cardpool and PJ, they’re both big faceless companies that never respond to emails. I’ve tried buying cards from them and it took a week to show up. And when I sold cards to them it took three weeks to get my money. What a bunch of crap.

[…] To read the rest of this please visit Churning merchant gift cards […]

[…] (and thus earn points and miles) by buying and selling discounted merchant gift cards. See “Churning merchant gift cards” for more information. If you’re interested in doing this, it’s helpful to have a […]

John W.

If you look under “cash back guidelines” for cardpool at it will tell you that only your first $1000 worth of transactions will receive cash back. So at 1.6% you could only make a maximum of $16 right?


John W: Yes that sounds right. Bummer! I’ll investigate more, but thanks for the heads up!

John W.

I’ve noticed that cardpool will only allow a cash back percentage on the first $1000 worth of gift cards bought or sold. I’m not sure if you use a different email address if you can get around that.


John W: Is that limitation written somewhere?

Reuven: Great idea! I had a similar thought: it’s listed as an experiment not yet started in the Laboratory page.


I see that cardpool sells gift cards to themselves. Possible double dip opp if you buy it with the .8% cb, and then make your normal purchase using the gc?


Out of curiosity, what’s the logic behind that? B/c of ppl like us?


Reuven: I don’t know. It might simply be that they think they can resell physical cards more easily. Or, more likely, they might be trying to take advantage of people who need cash in a hurry.


Frequent Miler – I’m in a situation that I’m typically overseas, so it’s best to do e-code gc’s so that I don’t have to have family start mailing them.
Once the 3.2% is lost at due to the $500 limit, are there any other ways to receive cb for selling to a website? I see 2% for Plastic Jungle, but am unsure if that’s for buying only.


Reuven: Yes, you can get 1.6% back from selling gift cards to via ShopAtHome. The problem is that offers about 5% less for e-gift cards.


Oh, and of course you could start this off by buying VISA GCs at OfficeMAX with an AMEX OPEN card to knock another 5% off the top, then using those to buy the GCs from….


MidnightMiler: Yep, you have the basics down. Nice find with those cards! A couple of nuances: The Visa GCs at OfficeMax won’t save you 5%: Once you account for the visa card fee, you’re down to 1.7% savings, but it’s still a nice way to help bridge the gap between the buy and sell price. Also, it is true that the specific example you gave is limited to $500 per 6 months, but it is often possible to find similar arbitrage deals that don’t require selling to That will let you drive up spending much higher.


I’ve been cranking out some numbers on this one, and think I’ve figured out a way to make a small amount of cash on this while accumulating miles/points of your choice. Ironically the best options for arbitrage is to go with the less valuable gift cards (ones that are discounted heavily) because the spread between what you can buy and sell them for is smaller. Here’s how it works out (please correct my math though if I’m missing something):

1) Purchase 25% off gift cards on (thru Some examples are Ann Taylor, Gymboree, Jamba Juice, and Sports Chalet. (These can only be sent as physical gift cards, so no pure electronic arbitrage is possible here, fyi.) I would suggest buying five $100 GCs for $375 with the rewards credit card of your choice (YMMV). This will also give you $4.00 from

2) Sell these same GCs (thru of course) to who will pay you $72 per $100 GC. So you get $360 for your GCs,and earn $16 rewards from

It’s not a lot of points because you are limited to doing this for a maximum of $500 every six months, but they are free points. Better than free actually because you make $5 each time!

Thoughts on this idea?


Hes referring to the chase AARP visa 5% for 6 month card thread I mentioned in fatwallet