Starting on Christmas Day, Walmart will allow consumers to exchange their unwanted and mostly unused gift cards from more than 200 other retailers.
In return, they’ll get Walmart’s “eGift Cards” that don’t expire and can be used in stores and online.
The online exchange is expected to send multitudes of shoppers to walmart.cardcash.com, which the world’s largest retailer will fully activate on Christmas.
“Enter merchant name and card balance for a quick exchange offer,” the Walmart exchange site says. “In seconds, see how much you can get in exchange for your gift card! Get up to 97% of the face value when exchanging for a Walmart eGift Card.”
Walmart stores reportedly will test the card-swap program to determine if it’s worthwhile enough to become permanent.
Consumers won’t get the full value of their gift cards to use at Walmart. For example, with Amazon.com, customers can redeem up to 95 percent, with Staples that figure is up to 90 percent and with Gap it’s up to 85 percent.
For some gift cards, a Walmart card will be worth just 70 percent of the value of the turned-in gift card.
Up to about $1 billion worth of gift cards will go unused this year, according to CEB TowerGroup, a consultancy. Many consumers misplace them or never get around to using them because they are tied to stores they don’t frequent.
“We recognized that this was an opportunity,” Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala told the Boston Globe. “A large number don’t get redeemed. We figured this was a good way to get gift cards in the hands of more customers.”
Jariwala said that 95 percent of Walmart holiday cards are usually redeemed by February.
Walmart’s partner in the swap program is CardCash, largest gift card exchange. CardCash CEO Elliot Bohm said Walmart gift cards are the most sought-after on its website.