It’s one of those things that’s happened to all of us. A very well meaning person (let’s call them a relative) painstakingly thought about and beautifully wrapped the perfect holiday or birthday gift for you: a $50 gift card to the store that makes your skin crawl.

You smile, graciously thank them and then do one of two things: 1) force yourself through the store doors to buy something you don’t want nor need; or 2) throw it into the dungeons of the junk drawer, never to be seen again.

Wouldn’t it be nice to redeem those gift cards for cash? Enter GiftCardRescue.com.

The genius idea of Ellicott City resident Kwame Kuade, GiftCardRescue allows you to sell your unwanted gift cards for up to 90% of the face value or purchase discounted gift cards for up to 30% off of the face value. Not a bad trick to pull out of your holiday magic hat. Or any time of year for that matter.

It’s not an eBay type of venture. You sell and buy your cards directly though GiftCardRescue – – not to a third party who “finds” you or your “find” through the site. If you have a card to sell, you simply provide GiftCardRescue with the information about the card and they make an offer. Want to buy a card? Their site functions just like any other online retailer. Just browse their market place, select your cards, and purchase with a credit card.

Kwame was kind enough to share some insider tips for entrepreneurial parents trying to stretch their money this holiday gift-giving season (which, not surprisingly, happens to be GiftCardRescue’s busiest time of year!):

  • From now until Christmas, you’ll find an abundance of department store cards for sale on the site. Think Macy’s, Nordstroms, Bloomingdales… When you buy a gift card for 15% off the face value, and then combine them with store sales (rumored to be even better than last year’s holiday discounts!), you can easily save 30-50%. Remember, gift cards aren’t coupons. They function same as cash with the stores, so you can combine them with other offers.
  • After Christmas, you can pretty much have your pick of restaurant gift cards since a lot of consumers choose to sell those for cash in January. Want to take your family out to dinner for much much less? Pick up a few fab restaurant cards post-holidays.
  • Best selling gift cards? Wal-Mart and Target. (Is anyone really surprised?) Those cards are sold within hours of going live in GiftCardRescue’s Marketplace. And you’ll receive top dollar if you’re trying to sell those cards.
  • Worst selling cards? Ann Taylor. Honestly, this shocked me. Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft are BY FAR my favorite retail clothing non-boutiques. So if you’re trying to unload Ann Taylor gift cards, you’ll probably only be offered 60% of the face value. That said, if you’re trying to pick a few up, you’ll get them 30% off. Score.
  • Think beyond retail. You’ll oftentimes find gas cards and travel cards on the site which will help ease the financial burden of the holiday-see-all-the-grandmas-great-aunts-and-second-cousins-shuffle.

Don’t worry. Gift Cards sold on the site have at least a six month shelf life before expiration (and those that do expire are really only bank-issued cards such as American Express Gift Cards).

Although it’s an online business, GiftCardRescue is 100% local to the Greater Baltimore area. Kwame and his wife are working parents – – just like us. They have a precocious two year old who loves Chuck E. Cheese and another bundle due any day now.

Founding GiftCardRescue (which started as his MBA student project) has given Kwame flexibility with his family – – which he loves. But he admits, he has to be careful to stick to his schedule and often has to work post-bedtime routine. Sound like an all-too-familiar story?

You can find GiftCardRescue online, on facebook and on twitter. To get the best deals, sign up for their email newsletter and be sure to check out the GiftCardRescue blog.

So go clean out the junk drawer. Guaranteed you’ll find more $ in there than the coins in your sofa will give — thanks to GiftCardRescue.

(cool) tip: Sell ANY giftcard between now and December 31st to be automatically entered in an iPad raffle! Looking for a particular retailer to snap a gift card from? Add it to your wishlist and be notified when a card becomes available.