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Convert Gift Cards to Cash Using Square’s iPhone Card Reader/App

By March 8, 2012January 7th, 2015How To, iPhone

Last night I was perusing Twitter as I sometimes do when I get bored. I came across this Tweet:


After reading it, I realized I have had three gift cards (two Visa and one Amex) sitting in my wallet for quite some time. They haven’t done me much good, though, as I could never remember how much was actually on them. So, I never used them…

With the new realization that the Square card reader/app could be used to deposit the funds of those gift cards directly into my bank account, I set out to find the free Square credit card reader I had received about a year ago. Only problem is that I’ve moved since I received it, and had no clue where the heck it was.

Fortunately it only took about five minutes of searching, and I found the card reader! Then I realized I hadn’t linked my Square account to my bank account, which might be useful if I ever wanted the funds to actually hit my bank account.

Oops… Forgot my password. So, after visiting Square’s help page about password resets (, I followed the process and got into my account. Then I followed Square’s instructions on how to link my bank account ( and after entering in all the required information, I was set to begin swiping my cards!

Or so I thought… I realized two things:

  1. I didn’t remember how much was on each card. Fortunately, somewhere on each card was the website and/or telephone number where I could go to look up the amounts/balance. After a quick trip to each card’s website, I knew how much I had on each card.
  2. Since I haven’t had any real use for Square, I didn’t have it installed on my iPhone. I quickly opened the App Store on my iPhone and searched for “Square.” A couple taps later and I had the Square app installed. (For those of you that are lazy/want the shortcut, here’s the App Store link:

I plugged the Square card reader, opened the Square app, entered my username/password, and was brought to the Square payment screen. Here I entered the amount on each card and filled in the description of what the card was, like so:

Once that was done, I swiped the card. Square’s card reader can be a bit finicky at times, so it took me a few tries to get a good swipe/read on the card (I kept getting a message telling me to swipe the card faster. Thanks, Square! :-p). Upon a successful swipe, I received an “Authorizing” message:

Once the transaction is authorized, Square then asks for a signature:

Once you sign and hit the “Done” button, Square will then ask if you want to send a receipt to the purchaser, either via SMS/Text Message or via email:

If you don’t want to send a receipt, you can choose “Skip Receipt.” For one of the three cards, I chose to send myself an email receipt, just to see what it contained. The email I received contained the name of the seller, the location of the purchase on a Google map, an image of my signature, and an ad for Square. Awesome!


After swiping all three of my cards, I received confirmation emails telling me the three different transactions had gone through! Now all I have to do is wait until later tonight to see if the funds get deposited from my Square account into my bank account!

Note: Square does charge a 2.75 percent fee on all transactions. So, it does devalue your gift cards by a little bit. I’d say 2.75 percent is a little steep, but to be able to convert these to cash in less than 24 hours is pretty awesome.

If you’re interested in potential free/no-fee ways to convert gift cards to cash, see Clark Howard’s video/blog about the subject here:

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