Companies like Amazon make billions on breakage every year — gained by retailers through unredeemed gift cards that are never claimed. The company pockets 100% of the money paid for these items without actually providing any goods or services. At the time of writing this article, buyers and sellers have have traded 26 different gift card brands on Redeeem—with the highest volume coming from Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Sephora, iTunes, Starbucks and Netflix. But ignoring volume, which gift cards retain their value the best?

Just like a new car starts losing value as soon as its driven off the lot, gift cards also lose value as soon as they're sold at the register. A gift card on a secondary market is never worth as much as the fiat currency used to pay for it. Wouldn't you rather get $100 cash or bitcoin in your wallet than a Krispy Kreme or GameStop gift card? Going from fiat currency to a gift card with way less limited spending options and controlled by a for-profit U.S. company is a really bad deal for consumers. Yet the gift card industry is estimated to reach $500 billion in market size by 2025 according to some analysts. It's big business for retailers!

For this article, we examined the average prices for all gift cards traded on Redeeem to determine the brands that are safest to buy in terms of potential fraud and breakage. Our goal is to help buyers determine the likelihood they will have problems spending the gift card after it's purchased. The gift cards that have the highest value on secondary markets means they usually have more diverse product inventory and lower frequency of voiding gift cards.

Safety Gift Card Ave Rate Balance
#1Best Buy$0.79Check
#4Apple Store$0.78Check
#10Home Depot$0.74Check
#13Whole Foods$0.73Check
#22Playstation Store$0.70Check
#26Google Play$0.50Check

To check your balance or transaction history (if applicable) for any of the gift card, click the "Check" link in the table above.

The most surprising here is how far Amazon is down the list compared to their close nemesis, Walmart. What this suggests is that Amazon has far more strict policies for gift cards that lead to breakage and their gift cards have a surprisingly high discount compared to smaller brands with far less inventory. Amazon is infamous for inexplicably shutting down accounts with no explanation. Customers lose millions every year from getting Amazon gift card credits locked inside their closed accounts for a long list of violations of their Terms of Use like having more than one account or using a suspicious email address. You've heard the term "You break it, you buy it." This is certainly Amazon's policy.

But there's perhaps no bigger offender of breakage than Apple and Google. Their gift cards have the lowest retail value on the secondary market, and it's not even close. Apple and other peer-to-peer exchanges openly struggle with fraud with these gift cards so it's no surprise their gift cards require a high discount. Further, most of the products they sell with their gift cards are games, movies, music, in-app purchases and other digital items.

Hopefully this list is helpful in deciding which discount gift card brands to buy, and helps people understand why Amazon, iTunes and Google Play gift cards (among others) can still be legitimate even at 50% of their face value.

For updated prices, download our Redeeem Chrome Extension. It features real-time gift card inventory, average rates, sale velocity, Bitcoin price and crypto news right from your browser 24 hours a day and its 100% free to use!