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Readers Respond: What Do You Do with Empty Gift Cards?

Responses: 19


If there's one thing that sweepers tend to win, it's gift cards. Getting a free shopping spree at a beloved store is a lot of fun, but after gift cards are used up, many people just throw them away. Plastic doesn't degrade quickly, and thousands upon thousands of empty gift cards add up quickly in landfills.

I've shared some of my ideas about how to recycle used gift cards, and now I'd like to hear your ideas. What creative uses do you have for gift cards once they've been used up?

Win Box

I keep all my used gift cards (that I won!) in my win box as a memory of my good luck and shopping spree.

gift card reuse

use them as book marks in library books or phone books to mark important numbers.
—Guest carole

Pretend play toys

My kids love to play store and keep cards in their wallets--empty gift cards are perfect for this.
—Guest catherine

Make a Purse

How about a funky, kitschy pocketbook? Obviously, it would need to be lined with fabric...but you could punch holes in all four corners of each card, and fasten a bunch of cards together to create a cool design for a decorative (and shopping-themed) handbag. The same idea would make an interesting dress too!
—Guest Natalie

Don't forget ice scrapers!

Empty gift cards are great to leave in your glove box for those frosty mornings where you don't need to get the big scraper out - just remove the frost!
—Guest Chedderfish


I save all my gift card...Someone is going to turn 50 or 60 or any other fun age. When I am invited to a special birthday I will sometimes give them as many gifts as they are old. Giving used up gift cards and fully loaded gift cards is a great present. Especially for your sister or prankster brother. Payback Baby. just mix in the used ones with the good ones adn say" happy birthday and think of me as you spend these." Great Laughs
—Guest bjfoss1976

Use for school scrip

Our school's scrip program uses gift cards and the cards can be refilled. Find out if you can do this with winning cards and you will be making a donation to your child's school (or church or sports team, or whatever organization).
—Guest ellie

what great ideas!

What great ideas! Someone beat me to it on the ice scraper (credit cards and employee ID badges work too!). Thanks for helping us remember the environment!
—Guest raymondlover2

Play with Your Card

My son got a Pick Punch for Christmas, so I'm going to let him punch guitar picks from the used gift cards.

Ideas for Reusing Used Gift Cards

I use old used gift cards for scraping frost off the windshield of the car when I can't find my ice scraper!
—Guest cakrawczyk


I make very nice durable bracelets and necklaces from gift cards, silver, and resin http://www.etsy.com/shop/lifeaccessories send them to me for a custom keepsake!
—Guest Kim Baldwin

Smartphone Stand from Gift Card

I have a small drawer full of used gift cards collected over the years, perhaps a hundred or so at this point. So I've found plenty of useful things to do with them, from spacers in woodworking to lockpicks (either by sliding them against the spring-bolt, or cutting them into disposable picks), to reloading and regifting particularly interesting cards, etc. Perhaps the one I use the most often, however, is an iPhone stand. The Instructable is here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Cheap-and-Quick-Portable-iPhone-PMP-stand/ and has saved me on several occasions. Note, it will only work in landscape orientation of a device, and only on lighter devices. But you can un-bend it and keep the card in your wallet like I do, and have a portable stand wherever you go.
—Guest Patrick


There is a company out there that actually recycles the cards so they don't end up in landfills. http://www.earthworkssystem.com/
—Guest Ann-Marie

Guitar Picks

I make guitar picks out of gift cards out of a pick maker! I sell them on my online shop on Etsy! www.etsy.com/shop/fullcirclehandmade
—Guest FullCircleHandmade

All those gift cards so little time!

I actual make jewelry out of used gift cards~ Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, barrettes, guitar picks and I'm working on a key chain because guys don't dig the jewelry so much! I have people from all over saving them for me and helping me keep them out of the landfill! I am thinking about making little houses with them for a small fairy village! you can see some of my jewelry at radicalrecycks.etsy.com
—Guest Radical Recycks

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