These gift cards are totally worthless. Why won’t CardCash.com help me?

By | March 16th, 2017

Gesine Van Der Meer’s gift cards are worthless. Why won’t CardCash, the company through which she purchased them, offer a refund? And is there anything our advocacy team can do to help?

Question: I recently purchased Delta Air Lines gift cards worth $50 each from CardCash.com, a site that helps you sell unwanted gift cards. I used some of these immediately, but did not think anything of it when I held on to 10 gift cards for later use. Now my 10 remaining Delta gift cards are drained and were used by other people.

I contacted CardCash, but they were of no help and refused to refund my depleted gift cards, invoking their “45-day guarantee” policy.

However, on their website it states the following:

OUR GUARANTEE: Safeguarding and protecting our customers is our priority. Our fraud protection teams are the best in the industry and using our state of the art technology we have virtually eliminated any problems that may arise.

At CardCash, you are never dealing with anonymous online members. All gift cards are sold directly to us and purchased directly from us so you have nothing to worry about!

In the past, whenever I bought the occasional gift card in an office supply or grocery store, every gift card stated “no expiration.” I honestly did not know, did never expect, and did not read anywhere that CardCash gift cards are only valid for 45 days and that one can expect to have the balance drained from your cards on day 46.

Would you please help me get my money back? CardCash.com owes me $450.
— Gesine Van Der Meer, Gresham, Ore.

Answer: Your gift cards should have been usable after 45 days, no matter what CardCash.com says.

Related story:   My Target gift cards were stolen -- can you help me get them back?

It’s true that CardCash.com has a warranty on its cards, which states:

When you purchase any gift card from CardCash, we guarantee you will receive the gift card. We guarantee protection against gift card fraud and unscrupulous gift card sellers when used within our 45 day policy.


We recommend you use the gift cards right away so we can fully back the cards. We guarantee that all card balance discrepancies reported to us within 45 days of the purchase date will be fully refunded.

That strikes me as a little bit of a cop-out. Why only 45 days? Can you imagine what would happen if other financial products were only guaranteed 45 days? It would be chaos!

You sent us the paper trail of correspondence between you and CardCash.com. I was disturbed by the response you received, which appears to be a boilerplate denial:

CardCash is a gift card marketplace where millions of sellers can sell their unwanted pre-owned gift cards at a discount. CardCash checks the balance at the time of the listing. Statistically only a very small percentage of our cards have issues where the seller used the gift card or it got canceled after we have checked the balance at the time of the listing. The percentages are kept very low because of all the proprietary fraud technology and KYC measures CardCash has working behind the scenes.

Buying from any Marketplace involves the classical Risk vs. Reward decision. Consumers shopping on a marketplace can save up to 35% but will at times receive cards that are invalid or have a balance discrepancy. This is not something we can control. However, in order to make our customers feel a bit more comfortable we offer a 45 day buyer protection guarantee. CardCash encourages all of its customers to use the cards within that time period and if they encounter an issue to immediately let us know.

Huh? CardCash is knowingly selling cards that might be worthless? How can they get away with that?

Related story:   My PayPal account is frozen - can you unfreeze it?

I’m glad you posted your problem to our help forum. We maintain an open forum — and send cases like yours to it because solving the problem in public helps others in a similar situation and, most importantly, puts companies like CardCash.com on notice that they can’t hide behind the fine print in their contracts.

And guess what? It worked.

You followed the advice of our forum advocates, who recommended you contact state regulators to file a complaint. You did, and CardCash.com cut you a check for $450.



  • sirwired

    I wonder how these gift-card resale places figure out who is telling the truth in these cases?

  • AJPeabody

    Cash value cards have problems at times when bought from the direct issuer. Buying one second hand allows for a much higher risk of failure, finagle, and fraud. The OP was lucky.

    Just a thought: If you can save 35% buying a second hand cash card, and the middleman is making a profit, what is the chance of a rational person selling that card at half price? Too good to be true often is too good to be true.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I can see a couple of situations in which a rational person will sell a gift card for half of it’s value…mainly, if they are for products they would or could never use, and if they needed the money fast.

    Airline gift cards would certainly fit the bill. I’m not exactly sure how one obtains airline gift cards…but if someone has, say, received Delta gift cards as some kind of bonus or gift, but has neither the means nor intention to travel, they would be worthless to them. And I can’t imagine it would be easy to sell such cards on their own, especially if they don’t exactly run in crowds of frequent flyers.

    If the cards cost them nothing, then anything they get for them is found money. So I can see the allure of offloading those cards to a website and getting cash for them even if it’s only half the value. Something is better than nothing!

    All that being said – I would never never never buy a “previously owned” gift card online. The whole thing seems shady to me.

  • Steve Rabin

    so they say they ‘check the balance’ but still hides behind the weasel words that the risk on the buyer?

  • greg watson

    If ‘state regulators’ were required to get a fair result for the OP……………………….why is CardCash.com still in business, without changing their guarantee to protect their clients ?

  • polexia_rogue

    I think that’s why the limit is 45 days. They know there is a 99% chance that the card seller was a scammer since it’s so easy to copy down the number. Basically the website says “You should really use that card right away.”

    If they didn’t post a limit they would go out of business (which wouldn’t be a bad thing.)

  • polexia_rogue

    Certain Coinstar’s take gift cards and give you 100% of the value- a much better option.

  • Bill___A

    “That strikes me as a little bit of a cop-out. Why only 45 days? Can you imagine what would happen if other financial products were only guaranteed 45 days? It would be chaos!”

    You know, this is just free enterprise fulfilling a need. They are not a bank. There are risks and benefits. Benefit to the buyer is saving money and the risk is mitigated if you use them within 45 days. Although it is not my cup of tea, I wouldn’t be so hard on them. the terms are not unfair or unreasonable – and if one wants a normal, not pre-owned card, go through the correct channels for that.
    It is good that this got “fixed” but I really don’t see a problem with how they are doing business.

  • MarkKelling

    Not any more. Cardpool.com bought that part of the Coinstar company.

  • PsyGuy

    That was excellent work, online businesses don’t like people with badges bothering them.

  • PsyGuy

    They check the balances in advance, when they accept the card but they can’t keep doing it constantly, especially after a sale.

  • PsyGuy

    It depends what it’s for. A gift card a person can’t use or won’t use is zero, so 50% is still better than nothing. There are LOTS of gift cards out there that are for retailers outside of places like Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Amazon and iTunes.

  • PsyGuy

    The only ones I have bought and this isn’t the same thing, is giftcard packs at COSTCO where the discount is somewhere between 10% and 25% savings (you get $100 worth of gift cards for $80).

  • PsyGuy

    The problem is they can check it, and verify it, but they can’t keep a running watch on the balance. What they are doing essentially is buying the gift card and delaying payment of it until 45 days later, which is the most they can probably do.

  • PsyGuy

    Different states have different rules and regulations.

  • The Original Joe S

    Why would anyone give a company an interest-free LOAN? DUH?

    You wanna give a gift? CASH speaks volumes!

    MY D-I-L gave us a $50 gift card to a certain restaurant, which has great pizza. However, their terms were that one cannot use the whole thing at one sitting. They want to try to force you to bring in more peopl, so then you can spend on desserts, etc for the 4. Scumbags! I’ll NEVER eat in that place again, even though their over-priced pizza is first rate.

  • The Original Joe S

    Good idea for the seller. Not so good an idea for a buyer. As u said, is it a valid card?

  • The Original Joe S

    I can see why one might do that. Does that mean you can go and buy a COSTCO gift card, then immediatey get in |ine and use it?

  • John Baker

    @Joeschmuckatella:disqus I think @disqus_27ORzhmDId:disqus is referring to 3rd party card. For example,a local movie theater & national food chain (not to mention USPS stamps) sells them at mine. The COSTCO gift cards are purchased for face value. Basically COSTCO is rebating some of the commission they get for selling the card / stamps back to the consumer

  • John Baker

    These sites are essentially all scams. Definitely a Caveat Emptor situation.

    If I had to guess, I’m willing to bet the seller’s payment is held for 45 days after the sale (hence the window). If the seller is running a scam and uses the gift card during the window, they don’t get paid. After 45 days, the website has no way to go after the seller. I’m also willing to bet that there are a group of individuals checking balances on cards they sold at the 50 day mark. If they haven’t been used, they either use them directly or sell them on a different site.

  • LeeAnneClark

    The very fact that they won’t even guarantee them for more than 45 days calls that into question.

    I take this to mean that their experience shows that enough cards will be usable for the first 45 days to bring them a profit, and for the ones that are discovered to be invalid within that time, CardCash will simply eat the loss as the cost of doing business. But they will still get to sell many invalid cards and KEEP the money, because so many buyers won’t use them immediately…and by the time they realize they were useless, it’s past the deadline and they are SOL.

    Nice business model – selling products that they know full well at least a percentage will be worthless, banking on their sucker customers not realizing it until too late.

  • JewelEyed

    Even if they could, how would they know who used it?

  • Attention All Passengers

    Confused. How were the gift cards used by other people if they were in her possession?

  • BubbaJoe123

    “These sites are essentially all scams.”

    No, they’re not. They buy gift cards at a discount, and sell them for a (smaller) discount. They’re quite clear that, if there are any problems within 45 days, they’ll cover the loss. After 45 days, the risk is on the buyer.

    I’ve used similar sites multiple times, as both a buyer and a seller. They’re certainly not scams, and it’s absurd to make the claim that they are.

  • BubbaJoe123

    The seller just wrote down the number on the card before selling it.

  • PsyGuy

    Well yes, it’s a cheap way of getting a membership. You can get a COSTCO store gift card for a dollar, and then use it to buy other items at COSTCO. So you buy 12 $1 COSTCO cards and if you only go to COSTCO once a month you saved $43.

    What I was referring to was third party gift card packs at COSTCO, like movie tickets or restaurants or other merchants. Usually the savings is somewhere between 10% and 25%.

  • LonnieC

    We actually bought $800 worth of Southwest gift cards quite a while ago. Our local supermarket chain was selling them, and doubling the credit we got in their gasoline discount offer. We used the cards to get SW flights and saved almost $2.00 per gallon on our next fill up. Worked out very well. Now, I don’t know if SW is stilling those cards.

We want your feedback.Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.