There’s no doubt about it, gift cards are popular. Over $100 billion in gift cards are given annually, and 93% of people in the U.S. receive at least one gift card during the course of the year. Consumers aren’t the only ones who love these little plastic rectangles– retailers love them, too, because they know that about three-quarters of cardholders will wind up spending more than the value of their card – an average of 20% more. Christmas is the most popular time for giving and receiving gift cards, and if you’re one of the lucky ones who received a card this holiday season, we’ve got some tips and tricks to save money so you can get the most from your gift card balance this year:
- Pair your card with a coupon or sale – or both. Taking advantage of sales and coupons are two of the most popular ways to save money with gift cards. Whether you receive a store card or a generic card that can be used anywhere, always look for opportunities to combine your card with a coupon or sale to stretch your gift card balance as much as possible.
- Understand fees and expiration dates. The federal CARD Act provides protections for consumers who buy and receive gift cards, and most states have also enacted their own laws. To find out about the laws that apply in Florida or the state where the recipient resides, visit the Consumer Protection website or the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
- Use your gift card to buy gifts. It’s an easy way to save money and make sure your gift card balance doesn’t go to waste.
- Re-gift the gift card. Yep, that’s right. Give it to someone else on their birthday or other occasion. Just be sure you don’t give it to the same person who gave it to you in the first place, and be sure to check the expiration time on the card.
- Sell your gift cards. There are plenty of sites online where you can sell your gift card for cash. You won’t get full value, but if you know you’re not going to use it, getting something is better than getting nothing. Beware of scammers who ask to see the card number so they can check the balance on the card before purchasing; they could be looking for a way to drain your balance with online purchases.
And if you’re buying a card, one of the most popular ways to save money is to look for offers that provide bonuses with card purchase. These offers typically crop up around holidays, and include bonuses like a free lower-value card when you purchase a higher value card.
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