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Unused Gift Cards? United Airlines Will Take 'Em, Thank You Very Much

February 27, 2012 at 11:22 AM | by | ()

We all have them; retailer gift cards that sit unused in a pile of paper somewhere. Most of the time, the balance on them isn't worth the trouble of redeeming. We're talking about $1.35 on that Saks Fifth Avenue gift card, or $4.25 for Gap. United Airlines has a solution for these dilemmas: The airline accepts gift cards with any values in exchange for Mileage Plus miles.

United will beef up your frequent flyer account if you choose not to shop 'til you drop. UA accepts cards from a long list of retailers, including Best Buy, Walmart and the Gap. With 60 retailers in total, it is good that there is no limited to how many cards can be exchanged. As an example, a $25 Target gift card is worth 670 miles or about $.26 per mile. Not an awful swap if you're not keen on Target.

Here's the major caveat: unused gift cards must have at least $25 in value and are assessed at market value. Translation: your Staples card may be worth less than your Neiman Marcus card. The whole process is automated online by just punching in a few numbers from the back of the card and, voila!, you are closer to that flight award.

The only drawback to the whole scheme is that since it is a purchase, the miles are subject to a tax of 7.5%. But if you need just a few more miles to confirm that upgrade, the tax is worth the comfort for long long flights.

To appraise your own unused (or partially used) cards, get on over to United.

[Photo: United Airlines]

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