Cardpool is a gift card exchange, or a secondary market for gift cards. It allows you to either:
- Buy a gift card for less than its full value, or
- Sell an unwanted gift card, but for slightly less than the balance on the card.
This type of exchange is a win-win-win for all involved. Buyers get more than they paid for, sellers recover some value for a card they wouldn’t otherwise use, and Cardpool makes money on the difference between the price at which it sells the cards and the price at which it buys them.
How does it work?
For buyers, this is a simple e-commerce transaction. You go to Cardpool and select the retailer whose cards you are interested in, and then you are presented a list of cards with different values and different prices. You choose the card and buy it online, just like any other e-commerce transaction. Most gift cards on the site are electronic gift cards, so you will be receiving your card via email.
For sellers, you can use the Cardpool selling page to find out how much Cardpool will give you for the card you have. You have several options when selling:
- Sell your card to Cardpool at a discount and get a check sent to you for the amount quoted.
- Sell your card to Cardpool and get Amazon.com credit at a quoted amount that is a bit higher than the check option.
- Put your card directly on to the Cardpool exchange. This allows you to sell at a higher price, but it does not guarantee that your card will ever be sold, meaning you may have to wait for a long time to get paid (if ever). This is different than the first two options, in which Cardpool buys from you immediately and takes ownership of the card, making the reselling of the card their problem and not yours.
In addition to the online option, you can also sell your cards at a physical Cardpool location near you, which gets you your money faster.
OK, bur does it work?
In general, yes. Most customers are satisfied. Cardpool says it verifies the balance on gift cards in order to make buyers feel secure. (They also say they guarantee those cards for 1 year after the purchase.) Cardpool also says they pay sellers within one business day of receiving their cards.
However, problems do arise. Sometimes Cardpool buyers say that a card they’ve purchased has less value than advertised — or no value at all. Some sellers complain that Cardpool is slow to pay, especially if they’ve chosen to be paid by check instead of in Amazon credit.
And the complaint voiced by both buyers and sellers who are dissatisfied is that Cardpool’s customer service response is slow and unsatisfying. Cardpool does not offer customer service by phone, instead only giving you email or an online form as contact options. And that form tells you to expect a wait of 1-3 days for a response, meaning that if you are hopping mad you are not going to get any sort of immediate satisfaction. Overall, this is not surprising. Cardpool is a low-margin business, making its profit off the small slice between the amount it buys a card for and the amount it sells for — therefore, it is necessary to run a lean operation to make the business work. For you, that could mean customer service headaches.
By all accounts, Cardpool is a legitimate business. There is no intent to scam its customers. However, Cardpool may be the target of scammers itself, as people may try to sell Cardpool gift cards that are not legitimate, making the processing of cards a bigger job for Cardpool than you might imagine. This may lead to some of the complaints that arise, both on the buyer side and the seller side.
Bottom line: buyer (and seller) beware. Our advice would be to go slowly with Cardpool, making your first purchase or sale a small one, with a gift card having a low balance. See for yourself what the experience is like before you jump in with multiple cards or cards with higher balances.