Forgotten Gift Cards Yield Business Opportunity

Gift cards are one of the most popular forms of giving these days, but billions of valuable plastic cards end up unwanted or unused, stuck in drawers, or hidden in wallets. One new Web site allows you to buy and sell gift cards; another lets you sell the ones you don't want or donate them to charity.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

It can be hard to remember to use all those gift cards you receive for the holidays. By one estimate, billions worth of gift cards go unused every year. Hoping to profit from this inefficiency in the human brain, entrepreneur Anson Tsai recently launched a Website called Cardpool.

It brings to a whole new level the concept of re-gifting, and that's our last word in business today.

Consumers already auction old gift cards on eBay, but Tsai says his company verifies the balance on each card.

Mr. ANSON TSAI (Founder, Cardpool): So you always know when you buy a gift card you're getting exactly what you want.

WERTHEIMER: Another gift card exchange site is called Plastic Jungle. The company's CEO is a former eBay executive, Gary Briggs. He says some gift cards hold their value better than others.

Mr. GARY BRIGGS (CEO, Plastic Jungle): Cards that you'll get the most money for are cards like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe's. And cards that are worth less are cards that are typically casual dining places like Applebee's, Outback, et cetera.

WERTHEIMER: Plastic Jungle itself might hold more value down the line, or so hope some Silicon Valley investors, who last week gave the site more than $7 million in funding.

And that's the business news on MORNING EDITION. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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