Unwanted Gift Cards? Swap Them!

Even though gift cards are  the new go-to gift, as with anything new,  there are sure to be misfires. That's when sites such as Plastic Jungle, Gift Card Rescue and Card Pool come to the rescue, allowing recipients to trade the coveted plastic cash cards for stores of their choosing.

"People get their cards and want to make sure they get value from them," said Kristin Morse, a spokeswomann for Plastic Jungle, a gift card marketplace that allows users to swap, sell and buy gift cards at reduced rates. The average gift card offered a savings  of up 10 percent, Morse said.

Gift cards remained the most coveted item on Christmas lists for the fifth straight year in a row, with the typical consumer spending a cumulative $155.43 on gift cards, according to the National Retail Federation. That adds up to approximately $27.8 billion.

Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, said convenience and technology had made gift cards a more popular gift than ever before.

"Consumers are looking to these not only as last-minute gift ideas but also as a practical item for their loved ones, who may have had something on their radar all year long but didn't want to get it for themselves," Grannis said. "Gift cards can be sent online and even through Facebook. There are more options than ever."

But those on a tight budget, watching their dollars, including their gift-card spending,  can   turn to the online marketplace to make the most of their dollars.

"Certainly in this economy, people are trying to save money wherever they can," Morse said, adding, "We are staffed up significantly."