Gift cards aren’t just for gift giving anymore.
We save an average of 12-15% when we buy discounted gift cards. And we’ve seen savings up to 54%.
They buy unwanted gift cards, then turn around and sell them for less to people like you and me.
This is how you can get the most out of a gift card:
1. Instantly trade your unwanted gift cards at Target.
Target will exchange a number of retailer, restaurant, and airline gift cards for their own Target gift card!
Just bring your unwanted gift card to a participating Target service counter and ask them to make a trade.
They’ll give you an offer for your card (warning: it’ll be below the card value), and give you one of their own gift cards for that amount…on the spot.
2. Exchange low-balance gift cards for cash.
Did you know that if you live in certain states, by law you can exchange gift cards for cash?
It’ll work for any retail or restaurant gift card, but not on bank-issued cash cards like VISA.
This trick also excludes promotional gift cards (like #24).
|State||Trade for cash if balance is:|
|Colorado||$5 or less|
|Connecticut||Less than $3|
|Massachusetts||If 90% of card has already been redeemed|
|Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington||Under $5|
|Texas||Less than $2.50|
|Rhode Island and Vermont||Less than $1|
3. Stock up in January on gift cards you know you’ll use.
Think of it like Christmas overflow.
Thousands of people receive gift cards for Christmas that they don’t want, so they sell them on discounted gift card sites.
Because supply will outweigh demand following Christmas, you’ll see some outstanding deals.
4. The best time to buy restaurant gift cards is December.
In December, restaurants offer tons of “free gift cards with a purchase” deals.
Usually the free gift card isn’t redeemable the same day, and in some cases, you need to wait a week or longer to redeem.
5. Combine discounted gift cards with coupon deals to save even more.
You’re already saving at least 50% on groceries and health and beauty items if you’re couponing.
Pay with a discounted gift card, and you just upped your savings even more.
Since diaper deals happen at least once every three months or more, I buy Rite Aid, CVS or Walgreens discounted gift cards and combine them with coupons when I see a diaper deal.
6. Use discounted gift cards for travel.
Gift cards aren’t just for mall shopping anymore.
7. Purchase your movie tickets with gift cards.
Gift cards for movie theaters and ticket sales outlets are HUGE on discounted gift card sites. Easily save 15-20% on movie tickets. Stack this with Tuesday movie deals and you’re saving even more!
8. Use the Raise.com app to buy the e-gift card you want to use while you’re waiting in line to pay.
I love the Raise.com app.
I can purchase a gift card while I’m at the back of the line, and it’ll be available for me to use by the time I’m ready to pay.
The app will also track gift card balances and keep all your cards readily available in your app wallet.
9. Don’t purchase discounted gift cards more than three months in advance.
Raise offers a one-year guarantee on your newly purchased card balance and usability, 90 days for cards not received.
Cardpool provides a 180-day guarantee.
After that, if there are any problems with the card, you’re on your own!
10. Sort cards by the “highest discount” when buying gift cards from Raise.
Use the “sort” feature to see the highest discounted cards first, then work your way through the list until you spot what you want.
11. Williams-Sonoma gift cards can also be used at West Elm to get the best discounts.
Higher-end stores like West Elm won’t have hugely discounted gift cards (usually around 6-8%), but their sister stores will!
And many sister stores accept each other’s gift cards, so learn to work that system.
For example, buy a Williams Sonoma card at 52% off to use at West Elm.
Here are a few stores that accept each other’s gift cards:
- GAP, babyGap, GAP Kids, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, Piperlime
- Walmart and Sam’s Club (including Walmart Gas and Sam’s Club Gas)
- PBteen, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Mark and Graham, and Williams-Sonoma
- Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie kids
- J.Crew, J.Crew Factory, J.Crew Mercantile, crewcuts
- Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill
- Kroger brand stores (Kroger, Barclay Jewelers, Baker’s, City Market, Copps, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Foods Co., Fred Meyer, Fred Meyer Jewelers, Fry’s Food and Drug, Gerbes, JayC, King Soopers, Littman Jewelers, Local Mkt, Mariano’s, Metro Market, Owen’s, Pay Less Supermarkets, Pick ‘n Save, QFC, Ralphs, Smith’s Food and Drug, Turkey Hill Minit Markets, Kwik Shop, Loaf ‘N Jug, Quik Stop, Tom Thumb Food Stores, and Turkey Hill Experience)
- Darden Restaurants: Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, Season 52, The Capital Grille, Yard House
- Sephora inside JCPenney, JCPenney, JCPenney.com (but these won’t work at a freestanding Sephora, or at Sephora.com)
- Sears, KMart, Lands’ End
- Toys”R”Us, Babies”R”Us (FAO Schwarz cards can also be used at either store)
12. Set an alert to find out when a gift card you want is available.
Want your favorite brand at a certain discount?
Sign up for brand alert emails so you never miss a deal.
When the alert does come through, buy immediately! I can’t stress this enough.
The times I’ve used the alert feature, my gift card is often sold immediately because others are waiting for it too!
13. Shop Raise on Fridays.
You’ll get an extra 3-5% off if you subscribe to Raise.com’s email newsletter — delivered every Friday.
Most folks also purchase their cards right before or during their weekend shopping trips, so if you’re purchasing yours on Friday, you’ll beat the rush and may have more deals available to you.
14. Get free gift cards with Granny’s “Secret Deals.”
GiftCardGranny’s Secret Deals lists free card bonuses.
For example, buy $50 of Applebee’s gift cards and get an extra $10 bonus card for free!
Their purchase must be within 30 days of your referral though!
16. Earn free gift cards with the Granny Rewards Program.
Receive points toward a free gift card every time you purchase a card, refer a friend, sign up for the newsletter, and more.
You’ll also get insider promo codes, brand alerts, and access to giveaways.
17. Get $10 off your first $50 gift card purchase on Raise.com.
You’ll get $5 off just for signing up. Then use code KCL5 to get an additional $5 off your first purchase of $50.
18. Don’t buy physical gift cards from discounted gift card websites.
Physical gift cards can take a few weeks to receive in the mail, and some sites even charge for shipping. If you do need a physical gift card, buy it from Raise or Cardpool, since they offer free shipping
Instead, get an electronic eGift card or voucher to use instantly.
19. Get up to $0.99 on the dollar when you sell your unwanted gift card.
Received cards you don’t want?
Most cards will get you an average of $0.85 on the dollar, but the most popular brands (Shell, Walmart, and Target) can be sold for as much as 96-99% of their cash value.
If you have a gift card you know you won’t use, this is a great option.
20. Buy discounted physical gift cards at Costco.
Costco carries discounted gift cards for movie tickets and restaurants like Ruth’s Chris and Build-A-Bear.
Save time and shop on Costco.com for discounted entertainment gift cards (including destinations like Hawaii, Vegas, and Europe).
21. If you have a physical card, take a photo of the back.
If you lose the card, you can still redeem it as long as you know the numbers from the back of the card.
22. Get free gift cards by redeeming credit card points.
Most credit card reward programs allow you to redeem points for gift cards.
Try the Chase Ultimate Rewards program where you can get the same gift cards for 10-20% less points than other programs.
23. Stack discounted gift cards to complete your purchase.
If you have multiple gift cards for the same retailer (or sister store — see #11), stack them to pay 100% of your purchase.
Some retailers do have limits. For example, eBay will only take 8 cards, and GAP will take up to 5 cards.
24. Buy regular items at Target and get free $5-20 Target gift cards.
Target deals totally rock. Frequently, you can get a free $5-20 Target gift card for purchasing certain items.
For example, we’ve seen deals where you can get a free $20 gift card with purchase of select baby formula 6-packs.
Download the Krazy Coupon Lady app to find out about more Target deals.
25. Get up to 50% off gift cards on LivingSocial and Groupon.
These discount giants occasionally offer gift cards for up to 50% off.
For example, 25,000 people paid $10 for a $20 Target card when Groupon ran the deal.
26. Get paid in gift cards when you use Ibotta.
Get cash back for buying groceries in the form of gift cards for places like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Starbucks, and more.
You’ll get an immediate $10 after redeeming your first rebate, and another $5 every time you refer a friend.
27. Carry a Sharpie to track your physical card balance.
If you use physical cards, track balances by writing the leftover amount on the card with a permanent marker so you don’t have to keep checking your balance online.
28. Add credit to your Amazon account with small-balance VISA cards.
- Via GiftCards.com
Already know that you’ll forget about that low-balance VISA cash card in your wallet?
Turn it into Amazon credit by doing the following:
- Let’s say your VISA card has a balance of $3.01. Use it to buy a $3.01 Amazon eGift card (you can purchase them for any amount, starting as low as $1).
- Apply the Amazon eGift card to your Amazon account.
- BAM! It’ll show up as credit for your next purchase.
29. Track eGift card and voucher balances on your favorite app.
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