Shop For Gift Cards and Save!

by Matt B

giftiesA few weeks ago, I received a $25 Visa gift card in the mail, the fruits of opening a bank account through a referral about a year ago.  It was a forgotten and unexpected surprise.  I have not spent much money lately, but have aggressively been attacking my remaining credit card debt, so I wanted cold, hard CASH for the card.

I tried with all of my might to find a way to get the cash from the card, but to no avail.  It seems as if there are two ways to utilize this card.

-Spend the funds on it.

Originally, I did not want to to this.  I do suppose that it is better than the other option, which is…

-Sell the card.

Through my research for extracting cash for the card, I found a number of sites that provide a platform for people to unload unwanted gift cards.

I decided to keep the card and use it when the opportunity arises.  It will probably be on groceries or something for the house that I would have to buy anyway.  Maybe toilet paper.  After all, I’m no savage.

This little exercise opened my eyes to a whole new world of frugality.  Gift Card Shopping. I knew it existed, but never really considered it to be a viable money-saving idea until I was searching for ways to separate myself from this card.

Ebay is the first site that comes to mind when finding quality used items.  Used (or unused) gift cards are all over the place here.  CraigsList also has some, occasionally.  Originally, that is all I knew of.  I thought that I could buy a gift card for face value or slightly below, and to me, it just was not worth the work.  Fortunately, now there are many sites that allow purchase of gift cards at a discounted rate.

Where Can I Get Discounted Cards?

Plastic Jungle, Gift Cards Again, Swap a Gift, and Card Avenue are all viable options to find discounted gift cards.  Some of which I have found for up to 25% off the price!  Most likely, the best practice for purchasing these cards would be for stores you frequent, such as Wal-Mart or for large purchases (maybe electronics from Best Buy).

Giftcardable is a site that organizes all of the Ebay auctions on gift cards by store.  Let’s say you have a specific purchase in mind at Macy’s.  This site will show you all of the Ebay auctions for Macy’s gift cards.  As I search right now, the top result for a Macy’s gift card is an unused $300.00 card, the current high bid for this card is $255.00, that is a 15% discount!  Mixing gift cards with sale items could save a bunch off of the original price.

Fraud and Consumer Protection Measures:

Of course, purchasing gift cards online comes with risk.  You could be one of the few consumers who get a card that is not as advertised.  Luckily, there are now protections on these cards such as Paypal protection or methods of verification that can be used before the purchase so tackling potential fraud will be easier.

Now that congress has helped protect consumers on gift card purchases, this form of payment will likely continue to grow as it has for the past decade.  Why not jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the savings?

From a 12/2008 CNBC article:”Plastic Jungle, a gift-card-resale site, estimates that traffic on its site is up about 30 percent from last year.”

Gift Cards as Collectors Items:

Strangely, gift cards are also becoming collectors items.  Collectors looking for specific and/or rare cards sometimes pay thousands for said items.  This surprised me. So I looked into it, and sure enough, certain cards (such as the 2002 Starbucks valentines day card with a red heart) are avidly sought by collectors and will be paid for handsomely.  This is true even if there is a $0 balance on the card!  Even if you have spent the money, keep the cards.  You never know if what you are holding may become a collector’s item.

For more on gift cards as collectors items, see this Ehow Article or GiftCardCollector.com.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

LandoFinance June 4, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I’ve had an American Eagle Gift Card from 5 years ago…something tells me it’s no good anymore.

Ben Hebert July 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm

With the new gift card laws going into effect later this year your gift cards will never expire. This is great news for the secondary gift card market. You can also sell your gift cards to http://www.giftcardrescue.com a site that has quickly become a leader in this industry.

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