Website turns gift cards to cash

Forget about fruitcake and ugly Christmas sweaters.

Gift cards have people groaning.

And they’re going online to pawn them off.

Take new dad, Shafiq Megh, whose son Kaisen is almost two months old.

“We got a whole bunch of Babies-R-Us and Toys-R-Us gift cards,” he said.

Sounds useful, except the Meghs have everything they need.

“But I could use cash,” he said.

Megh searched “sell gift card” online and came across cardswap.ca.

He sold a $150 card and got a cheque in the mail for $120.

“Now I can go and buy diapers at Costco,” he said.

The head of the Toronto-based service says thousands of people in Ottawa use the site to buy or sell gift cards.

“The bigger the retailer, the easier it is for us to resell to somebody else,” said founder Frances Ho.

She started the company two years ago after being stuck with a wallet full of gift cards.

“I actually had a separate wallet for them,” she said.

“I really just wanted to swap them for cash.”

Gift cards are a $6 billion dollar industry in Canada, she said, adding a good chunk of cards are never redeemed.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

http://www.ottawasun.com/money/2010/12/28/16691546.html

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