Congrats! You are the recipient of a gift card. Maybe it was for a job well done, or a belated birthday gift. Nonetheless, you are ready to spend! Gift cards are hugely popular in the United States, and according to the publisher’s Q4 2020 Global Gift Card Survey, the gift card industry in United States is expected to grow by 9.7% on annual basis to a projected $2 billion dollar industry by 2027. With all those gift cards in the market, here are 12 tips on the smartest ways to use your gift card:
One of the best ways to make the most out your card is to use it right away! Don’t just toss it into a drawer and forget about it. Use it before you lose it, it expires, the store goes out of business or one of several other reasons things could go wrong, and your gift card could be rendered null and void. Every year, almost $1 billion dollars in gift cards go unused, which is a lot of wasted money!
Keep it safe
If you can’t spend the gift card right away, make sure you have a safe place for it. The best place would be with your credit cards in your purse or wallet, or in a separate envelope just for gift cards. As an added backup, try to use a gift card app. If you lose a physical gift card, you may never see it ever again. The best way to keep your gift cards secure is with a gift card app, that will store all your cards electronically with just a snap of a photo.
If you don’t think you will use your gift card, pass on the cheer to someone who will, like a good friend or relative. Gift cards make great gifts year-round!
Resell or donate
Gift card reselling has turned into a big market, and if you opt to sell the gift card, try listing it for sale on sites like Raise.com, Cardpool.com, GiftCardGranny,com, PlasticJungle.com or CardPool.com. You more than likely will not get full price for the card but will make some cold, hard cash money. If you are looking to purchase gift cards, you can also get them for discounted prices on the same websites, which is a great way to save money on your own shopping by using a discounted gift card.
If you are looking to do a good deed and donate the card, head to GiftCardGiver.com and GiftCards4Change.org which will send your gift card to nonprofits. You can also donate directly to some non-profits like St. Jude Kids,
Buy other gift cards
If you are not a fan of the gift card you received, it may be an option to repurchase other gift cards. Stores like Best Buy and Target sell other gift cards, so you can purchase a gift card you like better!
Try not to overspend or underspend
Leaving a balance on the gift card is not ideal, and neither is overspending and buying something you may not want or need. First Data, a payments technology company did a study that showed that 75% of consumers overspent their gift card by $38. Don’t overspend on something you may not really want in the first place and try to always use the exact amount of the gift card if possible!
Keep Track of gift card balances
One smart way to use gift cards is to make sure you keep track of the balances. The easiest way is to check the balance online, and just write the balance directly on the card with a sharpie, or for a neater look, invest in a gift card balance log from Sleeve Pal. The sleeve goes directly over the card, and you can neatly write the balance. If you want to keep track of balances with an app, look for apps like “Gift Card Balance” and “GiftPocket”. Simple and easy to use any of these tips will make sure you never lose a gift card balance again!
Try new things
A gift card is the perfect way to try out a new product or experience, without the feeling that you are wasting your hard-earned dollars. So go ahead and try out that new restaurant that just opened, sign up for that sip and paint class or buy the patterned dress.
Take advantage of bonus offers
You will notice that around the holidays, many retailers and restaurants offer gift card bonuses. If you are looking for a great way to get more for your money, this is it! For example, Target may offer a $50 gift card with a $10 bonus, so you are getting extra money for free!
Stack gift cards, coupons and promotions
To really get the most out of your gift card, try stacking with in-store promotions, sales, coupons, and loyalty reward programs.
Cash out small balances
Don’t leave free money on the table, no matter how small the amount. Some state gift card laws require stores to give you the balance in cash, you just have to ask the cashier. Currently, you can get up to $10 back in California, and around $5 in states like Connecticut, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, Puerto Rico, and Washington. Vermont and Rhode Island only up to $1. If you have a VISA or AMEX gift card with a low balance, head to amazon and buy an Amazon gift card for the exact amount. Load the Amazon gift card into your account, and you can easily use the balance for your next purchase without the hassle of trying to use the low balance gift card.
Earn free gift cards with reward apps
You can earn free gift cards with apps like Fetch Rewards, where you can scan receipts to earn points and cash in for gift cards at participating partners like Amazon, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and more. Choose from restaurants, entertainment, retail, charity and even cash cards. Easy, free and fun!