A Great Idea for What to Do With the Pennies Left on Your Giftcards

Gift cards are an amazing last minute gift for when you need to get someone something on the fly. Were all too familiar with gift cards by now, but have you ever wonder how stores make money from the gift card sales?

Here is how they work:

When you purchase a $50 card, the store gives you a $50 credit towards the purchase of anything on the store. When your special someone gets the card, they then go back to the store and buy something with the gift card. This “something” is not going to be worth $50 even, sometimes it’s worth $47 with tax or much less. The remaining $3 is so insignificant that we really don’t care to keep the card anymore, so we either throw it away or never use it again until the card expires. These $3 extra dollars that you didn’t spend is profit for the store because someone already gave them $50 but sold $47 in return.

These cards are found everywhere, Grocery stores, malls, electronic stores, Kinkos, subway Trains, even library cards – I’m sure you are familiar with the experience of being left with 20 cents on a card. I personally never use them again, or throw them away. In any case, there is still money stored in the cards that could go to good use. Three enterprising graduate students at NYU’s Interactive Communications Program want to drain every last penny from the cards and put them to good use.

They’ve put together a prototype for a system they call the Metro Change, this system currently only works for the NYC metro system cards, but this is the early building frame of something that could be very helpful.

The small kiosk on the video has a card reader on the top of panel, once you slide the card it asks you if you want to donate the remainder of the card’s value, you then press a button to agree and the funds are given to a charity, you can then throw the card into the recycling box so it can be sent to recycling plants. This is a great idea until someone hacks the box and transfers the money to Bob’s fund my keg party foundation.