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CardPool, a new startup incubated by Y Combinator, helps users get money for gift cards that they don’t want. Now it’s also offering a financial incentive for those users to recruit their friends.

The concept behind San Francisco-based CardPool is pretty straightforward. It acts as the middleman between people who want to unload unwanted cards and people interested in buying them for a discount. The site says it pays sellers up to 90 percent of the value of a gift card, then offers them to buyers for as much as 30 percent off.

For example, if you received a $50 gift card for a store where you never shop, you might be able to sell it to CardPool for $40. Then someone could buy the card for $45, basically giving them a $5 discount on their next purchase at the store. And CardPool pockets $5 from the deal. (Those numbers are meant to illustrate the concept, not to reflect CardPool’s actual rates.)

Under CardPool’s new affiliate program, users can have their friends sign up for the site using a special link tied to their account. Then, when those friends make their first purchase, that first user earns 5 percent of the value of the deal, with a $50 limit. Co-founder Anson Tsai said many purchases on the site are worth enough to earn recommending users the full $50.

The company also added another new feature — the ability to donate your gift card to charity. So instead of earning money from the sale of a gift card, you donate it to CardPool to sell, and CardPool says it will give 100 percent of the proceeds to the charity of your choice.

This isn’t Tsai’s first startup, by the way. His last company,, was acquired by Imeem in 2008.


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