If you’re a fan of gift cards, you probably already frequent some of the better-known discount gift card websites to nab juicy deals on the cards you use (and give) most. But in addition to discount gift card websites, there are other lesser-known ways you can score gift cards that pay out more than the cash in your wallet. In this post, you can circumvent the periodic "lean times" when discount gift cards may be less available online by using these creative ideas instead.

1. Shopping online at discount gift card websites

If you have been a KCL for more than a few weeks, you are likely familiar with some of the major online discount gift card vendors. These websites permit you to shop for your favorite gift cards and purchase the ones you want for less than the face value of the card. In my experience, discounts can be as high as 35% off of face value. Some of the sites also permit you to sell back your unused gift cards in exchange for cash.

Here are some of the online discount gift card vendors I have used:

2. Redeeming miles or points for gift cards

Another great way to get gift cards—essentially for free—is to redeem unused travel or mileage points for gift cards. If you have miles or points that are expiring, or you do not anticipate being able to use even evergreen miles or points for travel for any reason, find out if the vendor permits redemption for gift cards. Presto—instant free cash!

3. Buying an additional gift card at a discount when buying one at face value

No creative idea is too zany for today's marketers to try. One idea that has proved successful as a purchase incentive is to offer a second gift card at discounted face value or free with purchase of one full price gift card. The best place to find these deals are at your favorite vendors (e.g. Target, Costco).

4. Bidding on gift cards at major auction sites (such as eBay)

Major auction sites, of which eBay is currently the largest, do buy and sell absolutely anything and everything. In addition to musical instruments, jewelry, craft supplies, home goods, and items you do not recognize, it’s not uncommon to find unwanted gift cards priced well below their cash-face value. If you’re the low bidder, you can score big time on gift cards you want!

Note: Here, just be sure you purchase auction gift cards from a site that is reputable (such as eBay or the Apple store). Also be sure the site offers buyer protection and secure checkout before submitting your sensitive financial data.

5. Using cash incentive credit cards to purchase gift cards with your cash back rewards

Credit card companies have been able to win new customers by offering a program called "cash back for purchases." With this type of program, you get a percentage of cash back (usually anywhere from 1-6%) on every purchase you make within a billing cycle up to a certain maximum threshold (such as $100). Sometimes these cash back programs include extra incentives, such as an increased percentage of cash back, if you buy gift cards from certain "sister" vendors.

  • Example 1: You get 6% cash back when you make purchases at a certain grocer. So when you purchase a gift card—for any vendor—at that grocer, you get cash back for your gift card purchase as well as for your groceries purchase.
  • Example 2: You’ve earned $100 cash back from your AMEX card. You can choose to apply that amount to a future balance, or you can spend it on a number of gift cards from certain vendors (which will often offer their gift cards at a discount off of face value to card holders).

6. Purchase a desirable gift card with a less desirable gift card

Finally, in cases where multiple vendors sell gift cards as well as products, you can often use a less desirable gift card at one vendor to purchase a more desirable gift card.

  • Example: Let's say you have a gift card for Toys “R” Us, but you don't have kids and you have no upcoming baby showers to shop for. Luckily, Toys “R” Us also sells gift cards. So you use your Toys “R” Us gift card to purchase a Target gift card you can use that same day.