Turn unwanted gift cards into cash with Giftah

The Montreal Gazette’s Robert Rocha covered a very timely startup today in his Technocite column.

Got a bunch of gift cards you don’t want for Christmas? Need some cash in these rough times? There’s a crop of websites for people like you.

Gift cards, the perennial gift of choice from the busy or uninspired, are forming their own micro-economy as people seek to exchange them for money or other gift cards.

Such sites as Swapagift, PlasticJungle, CardAvenenue and GiftCardRescue.  But Canadians were left out, since the different currencies would make cross-border swaps tricker. But three students at the University of Waterloo’s VeloCity dorm created Giftah to give Canucks the same benefits.

It works a lot like eBay: a card holder lists his card, original value and remaining value, and others bid on it. The site keeps sellers honest with a feedback rating system, but Rezart Bajraktari, one of the co-founders, tells me they’ll soon have a verification system for cards over $50. The seller won’t get his money until it’s confirmed that the card has the advertised value.

Great timing for the guys behind Giftah. Mainstream media outlets like CNBC have been reporting that the troubled economy is forcing gift cards recipients to try to convert them into cash to buy the necessities.

Disclosure: Techvibes Waterloo Contributor Henry Finn is one of the co-founders of Giftah.