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This probably belongs in HD, but I like FWF more. yesIsearched. Credit to liquimatic at SD.

Effective January 1, 2008, "any gift certificate with a cash value of less than ten dollars ($10) is redeemable in cash for its cash value" (CA SB 250, approved by the governator and filed Oct 13, 2007).

Supposedly some stores already do this, but now there's a law for all. Good for the consumer IMHO (I have a few GCs < $10 I haven't used because I don't shop at those stores much), also opens a small door for shenanigans, such as buying GCs at grocery stores with a ca$h back cc and redeeming for cash.

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I should have tried to get cash instead of food for my Chipotle gift card !
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Stores that will cash out GCs:

Macy's
BB
TJ Maxx
RiteAid
Longs Drugs
Target
CVS
Home Depot
Blockbuster
Safeway
Staples
Express
WalMart
Lowe's
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Awesome for California. . .

1) Buy cards at grocery store for 10.00 on 5% rewards
2) Buy 1oz of bulk food for .01
3) get 9.99 in cash. 50 cents in reward?
4) Profit 49 cents?

I see some benefit, but I doubt it'll be worth the trouble.

Why buy the food? One may purchase just gift cards. Even so, the price of the food should be included in your profit calcs.

I suppose the bigger danger would be...buy 1000 $10 gift cards with a 5% Cash Back CC. Redeem the 1000 cards for $10k cash, allowing you to pay off the CC. Pocket .05*10000 = $500....

is cash value of gift card the same as the redemption value ?

also, some AMEX cards have points instead of dollars with terms saying 1 point = 1 dollar. don't know why they do that, but it could be to avoid such laws ..

anyone in the know ?

I don't think it's worth the trouble either, but there's crazy people everywhere. One could come up with some regular routine and perfect it, like go to a mall with a SO or some friends, hit up a few stores to cash-in, then get "free" ice cream or movie tix, or just pocket it.

I didn't think the "crazy way" FAR laptops were worth the trouble, but look at 'em long threads.

idealguru -- I'm pretty sure cash value of gift card = redemption value.

Also this law only applies to retail gift cards, not Visa/MC/Am.Ex, coupons, or promotions/promotional GCs. Read the PDF, it's only two pages and high1ights changes to the existing law.

BTW, if not obvious, this also allows you to slowly pull cash out of a CC (and get paid instead of paying for it).

doesn't mention online store gc's... such as Amazon.

I know they have to follow the other laws such as expiration date, ect.

Would they have to mail you a check for the balance if you requested it?

If so this could be a great way to cash in thank you points.

I don't see why it wouldn't apply to Amazon. They'll probably send a check. But it's a terrible way to cash out TY points since you'd have to do it $10 at a time, and I don't remember seeing $10 GCs at TY network. Even if they show up, they'll be like 2500 points.

Porqin said: I suppose the bigger danger would be...buy 1000 $10 gift cards with a 5% Cash Back CC. Redeem the 1000 cards for $10k cash, allowing you to pay off the CC. Pocket .05*10000 = $500....Do that with a 0% on purchases promo and don't pay it off to make even more! Oh, the possibilities. Better be ready to deal with cops when you try to cash in a bunch of $9.99 gift cards.

If this were to be abused in any manner it seems to me the obvious answer is that stores just won't sell gift cards for less than $10.

I have store credit from Crate and Barrel. It is on a gift card. So in January, if my balance is less than $10 I can ask for cash?

Why don't you use the VISA/MC cards to buy store cards and then cash them out? If you have a large GC ask the store to split it up into smaller GCs. Most stores are willing to do this.

If it's worth your time to go through the process of abusing this for 5% on $10, you have more serious issues...

It's not like you just click a button and earn 5%, you need to buy the GCs, then either be awkward and immediately ask for the cash, or go back in line to another CSR and then request the cash refund (or, buy them online where possible and wait for them to be mailed which wouls save you some time).

The more you buy in bulk the better your time is used, but I don't think realistically you're going to buy 100 gift cards at once (and even then you're going to have to wait for them to ring them all up).

Nice theoretical idea, but doesn't seem practical. They've probably already thought this through and decided the $10 point was low enough to where it's not really worth your time to abuse it.

scripta said: I don't think it's worth the trouble either, but there's crazy people everywhere. One could come up with some regular routine and perfect it, like go to a mall with a SO or some friends, hit up a few stores to cash-in, then get "free" ice cream or movie tix, or just pocket it.


That's probably the best way to take small advantage of this. Find a store near somewhere you go already. Buy 50 or so gift cards online from the store. Then, exchange 5 or 10 at a time when you go near there.

Even then, is it really worth your time? If you do 10 at a time, if you bought them 5% CB, that means you're "earning" $5 to do that. If it takes you 15 minutes out of your way to do it, plus the time to order online, is your time worth that much (and also knowing you're being a scammer while doing this)?

I wonder though if retailers see you trying to cash in lets say 10 $5 cards and just take it and turn it into one $50 card.

walletfart said: ...Even then, is it really worth your time? If you do 10 at a time, if you bought them 5% CB, that means you're "earning" $5 to do that. If it takes you 15 minutes out of your way to do it, plus the time to order online, is your time worth that much (and also knowing you're being a scammer while doing this)?Like I said, it's not worth the trouble for many, but $5 in 15 or even 30 minutes is better than minimum wage. My ante went up over the last few years with salary and AOR balances going up and free time going down. A few years ago I would have probably done it.

I read the link in the OP to the information about the bill. One thing that is not present (at least in the linked file) is any restriction as to the way the refund must be issued.

Perhaps the law would allow retailers to redeem the under-$10 cards by asking you to send the card with a SASE to their headquarters? Or to a rebate processing company in El Paso Texas? Postage alone would kill any profit potential. Or perhaps retailers could set up a walk-in gift card redemption center in a small desert town along the Nevada border to satisfy the requirements?

I'm sure that if people find ways to game the system, retailers could be equally resourceful in finding ways to thwart them.

^^^ (h) For purposes of this section, “cash” includes, but is not limited to, currency or check. If accepted by both parties, an electronic funds transfer or an application of the balance to a subscriber’s wireless telecommunications account is permissible.

I doubt they'll make you jump through hoops to get cash < $10. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this plays out.

More shenanigan possibilities. If you have, say, a $30 gift card you don't want, and want to get cash, you can buy 4 items less than $10 each, and return them separately. Each return is less than $10 so you can either get cash or get a gift card back which you can convert to cash. Big hassle, not worth it for most, but a possibility.

The airfare to CA kills this deal for me.

you could always hop a ride on the postal truck which might just make the numbers work...NEWMAN!!!!

Not if you fly skybus
captainwho said: The airfare to CA kills this deal for me.

captainwho said: The airfare to CA kills this deal for me.

In the past, there have been occasions where California has forced their laws on companies that are headquartered in California. This could mean that any chain with it's headquarters in California could be forced to adopt such a policy at all their stores nationwide.

My guess is that most chains would wait until the California AG actually forces this on a comany first, but it's a possibility.

An easier way to do this is to go to grocery store and buy a $1000 best buy gift card or something..then go to the best buy website and buy 100 $10 gift cards....you can redeem the all in the store at once.

i don't think best buy sells $10 gift cards, that was just an example.

I just feel sorry for those of you who live in CA, with its socialist, big-government, anti-business, anti-consumer laws. They treat CA residents like you are too dumb to run your own lives, so the government needs to hold your hand and do everything for you (i.e. punishing you for buying electronics by socking you with heavy environmental taxes.) Shame on you for purchasing electronics! How dare you drive an SUV! Spank your child?...NEVER! Companies profiting from consumers misplacing low-value gift cards from their stores?...not in OUR state!

I have a suggestion for the governator: shut up, pave the roads, supply electricity, guard the border, run the schools, and put cops on the streets. Period.

Trinidon2k said: then go to the best buy website and buy 100 $10 gift cards....you can redeem the all in the store at once.

i don't think best buy sells $10 gift cards, that was just an example.
FYI, a $10 gift card does not have a value "less than $10".

I think this was spurred by the unconscionable profits mad by stores when people throw away gift cards because the balance is too small to bother with. Stores have reaped billions as a result. Who wants to try to find something to buy to use up a 50 cent or $1.00 GC? So people throw them away. This way if you get say a $50 GC and you use it to buy a $40.01 item you can ask for the rest back in change.

This is a fair solution for the consumer.

This is a big plus for those in the expired gift card business (these things can't expire in CA, as well as a few other states). Now you don't have to stack-up a bunch of cards to get something.

bauzer71487 said: Awesome for California. . .

1) Buy cards at grocery store for 10.00 on 5% rewards
2) Buy 1oz of bulk food for .01
3) get 9.99 in cash. 50 cents in reward?
4) Profit 49 cents?

I see some benefit, but I doubt it'll be worth the trouble.


If there's free money to be had, you know for sure that someone is going to do it. Case in point: AORs aren't worth the time and effort for a lot of people, but people who have enough spare time and planning ability can put one together to collect thousands. With the ability of infinitely cycle this "plan" (buy GC on CC, cash out GC, deposit money/pay off CC, repeat), you're limited only by time and personal dignity.

This also lets you pull out free cash advances from any CC, again, limited only by your time and sense of personal dignity.

Did you guys forget one big deal?

Buy all type of Gift card at dealpass or similar program for 20% or more discount from face value...

Cash the cards.

You get over 21% profit margin.. ( consider ur credit card have 1-5% rewards)


One easy way is to cash those like BurgKing cards, Wendys cards each time after u dinning there, they send out cards in $10

Dealpass. Hmm. Is that still available?

edit: oldfishvt beat me to the dealpass. Great minds think alike.

madshana said: Why don't you use the VISA/MC cards to buy store cards and then cash them out? If you have a large GC ask the store to split it up into smaller GCs. Most stores are willing to do this.

I'm guessing that soon, most stores won't be willing to split your larger gift cards anymore, at least not to the $10 level. I predict that a good number of stores will start selling GC only at $20 or larger. They may also stop issuing GC's for returns under $10, and issue a store credit certificate or some such to prevent returns for cash.

From a normal consumer standpoint, this is a nice move. You won't end up with GCs of $1.23 that you have to remember to take with you next time you visit a store.

For me, one nice use of this would be restaurant GC's. Places like TGI Friday's or Chili's give out an extra $5 GC with purchase of $25 (extra is really more of a plastic coupon though). When my wife and I eat there, we don't spend $30 each time, so we could get some change back from the $25 GC rather than holding on to a $1-2 credit, or just bumping up the tip to finish off the card.

Stores will start implementing a minimum GC purchase price of $10.01.

swandown said: Stores will start implementing a minimum GC purchase price of $10.01.

Yup, I see this as the end of Gift Card with values less than $10. Otherwise it would be like a gift card that can be refunded anytime.

Does restaurant.com count as a gift certificate?

I can see some creative ways to make use of those 70% off sales and $5 certificates...

^^^ it doesn't apply to discounted GCs, so I don't think it'll work for restaurant.com. Do they even allow redemption or return of their own certificates?

Good to know! Thanks. Arnold's the man.

As one of the lowly souls that's worked the customer service desk: come on!

If I were working the desk, I would put anyone who pulled this BS into the "Big Book of People To Refuse Service To", along with all the crackheads that steal spices (small, expensive), quick change artists (ha!), WIC'ers that try to exchange a 10 year supply of baby formula for alcohol and cigarettes.

Porqin said: I suppose the bigger danger would be...buy 1000 $10 gift cards with a 5% Cash Back CC. Redeem the 1000 cards for $10k cash, allowing you to pay off the CC. Pocket .05*10000 = $500....
mapen said: More shenanigan possibilities. If you have, say, a $30 gift card you don't want, and want to get cash, you can buy 4 items less than $10 each, and return them separately. Each return is less than $10 so you can either get cash or get a gift card back which you can convert to cash. Big hassle, not worth it for most, but a possibility.

JTFH said: As one of the lowly souls that's worked the customer service desk: come on!

If I were working the desk, I would put anyone who pulled this BS into the "Big Book of People To Refuse Service To", along with all the crackheads that steal spices (small, expensive), quick change artists (ha!), WIC'ers that try to exchange a 10 year supply of baby formula for alcohol and cigarettes.

Porqin said: I suppose the bigger danger would be...buy 1000 $10 gift cards with a 5% Cash Back CC. Redeem the 1000 cards for $10k cash, allowing you to pay off the CC. Pocket .05*10000 = $500....
mapen said: More shenanigan possibilities. If you have, say, a $30 gift card you don't want, and want to get cash, you can buy 4 items less than $10 each, and return them separately. Each return is less than $10 so you can either get cash or get a gift card back which you can convert to cash. Big hassle, not worth it for most, but a possibility.


The law is going to say you MUST reddeem it for cash... so you can't refuse, legally.

Skipping 52 Messages...
I should have tried to get cash instead of food for my Chipotle gift card !
14 Cases of Hepatitis A Linked to La Mesa Chipotle



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