What to do with all those gift cards? Wal-Mart testing an exchange program

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If Santa Claus brought you a lot of gift cards this year, Wal-Mart will take 'em off your hands.

The retailer is testing a program that will let customers exchange gift cards from more than 200 stores, airlines and restaurants for a Wal-Mart card, which can be used in stores and online, The Associated Press reports.

The majority of adults planned to purchase at least one gift card for the holidays, and total spending on gift cards has increased 83 percent since 2003, according to the National Retail Federation.

But every year, many don't spend the gift cards, either forgetting about them or saying it's too much of a hassle, the Verge says. About $1 billion worth of gift cards will go unused this year, CEB TowerGroup notes.

Wal-Mart is hoping to cash in on that by testing this exchange program. The retailer's hope is more shoppers will visit the retailer's website, the AP says. If the program is successful, Wal-Mart may make this permanent.

How it works

Wal-Mart partnered with CardCash, a gift card exchange program. All customers have to do is visit this website, enter the merchant name and card balance to see how much you can get in exchange for the gift card.

Shoppers won't get the full value of the gift card to use at Wal-Mart. Customers, depending on the merchant, can get up to 97 percent of the face value when exchanging them. However, some brands are worth just 70 percent of the original card, according to the test program.

The gift card will be emailed to customers, which they can print once it has been approved. Approval takes about one to two hours.

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