How's this for a statistic: WalletHub projects that this year, people will purchase $149 billion in gift cards.

Yeah, they're terrible gifts. Terrible in that they scream the giver didn't take the time to put any thought into what they were getting you.

If it's the thought that counts, gift cards are worth pennies on the dollar.

This isn't true for the millions of people who actually request gift cards.

For the 11th year in a row, gift cards are the most popular items on wish lists (according to Giftcards.com).

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about gift cards that are never used.

Care to guess that number?

According to Market Watch, it's in the neighborhood of $1 billion.

You may not be surprised by that number, especially if you have several gift cards from Christmases past.

You don't have to let them gather dust.

You can trade them in at several online gift card exchanges, Gift Card Cranny, Raise and Cardpool are popular ones.

The question is, which one returns the most value?

I tried them and here's what I found: Cardpool.com has the best return on the value of most gift cards. I tried a $50 Target card and found I could get as much as $44 in cash (Cardpool actually will send a check).

Getting cash back means listing your card and waiting until someone wants to buy it. Cardpool says you can get more of the original card's value by trading it in for an Amazon gift card.

That same $50 Target card returned $46 for the Amazon card.

Raise.com is also a gift card trader website.

Raise is a clearinghouse for unused gift cards.

Consumers buy and sell here.

I checked on the value of a $50 Target gift card on Raise and it was a bit tougher to see what they're selling for since you'll need the gift card serial number and pin before advancing past step 2.

When I checked the section of the website where people can purchase unused gift cards I did not see one less than $100 and none were discounted more than a couple of dollars.

It appears you might be able to get more from your card but you may have to wait awhile for someone to buy it.

The GiftCardGranny.com gift card exchange seems to put more of an emphasis on buying but you can sell gift cards here.

That $50 Target card is worth $40 in cash, or between $41-$44 if I trade it for an Amazon, Game Stop or another online retailer's gift card.

As far as comparing the three, Cardpool gave the best options and the best deal.

You an also pay that gift forward by donating it to charity.

Your church or local food bank would likely be able to use gift cards to Walmart for missions projects.

Some charities will also use someone's donated gift card on those exchanges for things they can use.

You can also check with the website www.charitygiftcertificates.org. This non-profit accepts unused or partially used gift cards from most retailers, like restaurants, hardware stores, Amazon, Walmart etc..

The organization will then go and trade in the donated card for cash they can use to support charities.

You get to pick the charity you want your gift card to benefit. The donation is tax deductible for the full or unused balance of the card.