Carla D’Antonio says she almost always gives her friends and relatives gift cards for Christmas.
“They never like what I give them,” she joked. “That way they can buy whatever they want, and they prefer them.”
Gift cards are easy and they can help you stay on a budget. 61 percent of American shoppers plan to give cash or a gift card this holiday season, according to a Consumer Spending & Saving Index by MassMutual. The survey found nearly half of the country plans to spend less this season compared with last year.
“Gift cards are great, especially when you’re on a budget because it really helps you stick to a set-dollar limit,” said consumer blogger Andrea Woroch.
Here are Woroch’s seven gift card hacks:
SNAG A DISCOUNT GIFT CARD
Woroch said discount gift card sites like Raise, CardCash and GiftCardGranny sell other people’s unwanted gift cards at up to 20% off.
“People sell their unwanted gift cards and they are resold on these online sites,” Woroch said. “The discount you get on a gift card is going to depend on the popularity and the demand for that gift card, so maybe you won’t get as big a discount on a Target gift card, but perhaps another retail site that isn’t as mainstream.”
Woroch said you can also find coupon codes to save even more money off at discount gift card sites. For example, CouponCabin.com is offering 15% off for new customers at Raise and 5% off at CardCash.
EARN CASH BACK ON YOUR GIFT CARD PURCHASE
Woroch said shoppers can earn cash-back when buying gift cards online using a cash-back site like CouponCabin such as 4.7% back at Kohls, 5.1% back at Sephora and 8.25% back at DSW.
Use the money you make to pay off the gift card purchases to stretch your holiday shopping budget. Check your credit card account for extra rewards when shopping at select stores as another way to maximize cash back when buying gift cards.
LOOK FOR FREE GIFT CARDS WITH PURCHASE
A popular promotion retailers offer during the holidays is a free gift card with purchase which is like getting two gifts in one.
“A lot of retailers will incentivize people to buy a gift with a free gift card with purchase,” Woroch said. “I think why retailers like this promo is because they’re not necessarily discounting the price of a product but they’re getting you to buy it by giving you a free promo gift card.”
Woroch said Apple recently offered a free $75 gift card when you bought new AirPods and Target offered a free $10 gift card when you spent $50 on LEGO sets. But, Woroch said to make sure you check the terms before gifting since some of these promo cards may have more limited expiration dates.
“If you’re savvy about it, you can use that free gift card that you get with the gift purchase and give that as a separate gift,” she said.
BUY FROM A WAREHOUSE STORE
Warehouse stores like Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s Club offer multi-packs of gift cards for 20 to 30% savings so you can get multiple gifts in one while saving. For example, Woroch said you can get two $50 electronics gift cards to SpaFinder for $79.99 and two $50 Landry’s multi-branded restaurant gift cards for $79.99 at Costco.
“They sell bulk packages of gift cards to restaurants, spas, as well as entertainment gift cards to movie theaters,” Woroch said.
You may have enough rewards built up in your credit card account, savings app or loyalty program to redeem for gift cards that you can give as gifts without dipping into your bank account. Review your credit card for points or miles that can be redeemed for gift cards and check store loyalty programs. Using cash-back apps like Fetch Rewards will also earn you points towards free gift cards to a variety of retailers and restaurants when you snap pictures of your receipts. This is an easy way to earn free gift cards to give as gifts!
CHECK YOUR CREDIT CARD FOR EXCLUSIVE SAVINGS
Some credit cards offer special shopping deals some of which may apply to gift cards. For example, Target RedCard holders can get 5% off specialty gift cards purchased at Target for travel, restaurants, movie tickets, and more. Check your credit card account for bonus offers as you may be able to earn extra cash back on gift card purchases at certain stores during the holidays which you can then apply towards statement credit to pay off the gift card purchase.
BROWSE DAILY DEAL SITES
Daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are a great place to find savings on vouchers for a variety of unique experience gifts as well as dining and spa certificates. You can save anywhere from 50 to 70% off and search for savings by zip code to make the gift even more personalized for a loved one who lives many miles away.
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