Updated March 26, 2019
Gift cards were the second most desired gift for the 2018 holidays, according to the National Retail Federation. You’ve probably got a pile of gift cards yourself stacking up somewhere from birthdays and holidays. In 2018 alone, there was 160 billion dollars’ worth of gift card sales. But while many consumers list cards as a number-one gift, it's sometimes easier to give than receive.
How can you best use gift cards? First off, merchants consider gift cards the same as cash, and so should you. Like money, you want to use them as wisely as possible. Here are 4 tips to use gift cards.
The best way to use gift cards is by stacking them. There are so many factors that go into the final price of something you want to buy. The most popular way to lower the price of a product is to use a coupon, but there are a bunch more. If you combine them all together with the gift cards you’ve got, you can take full advantage of every savings opportunity available to you.
Gift Card Granny features thousands of physical and digital discount gift cards. You can sometimes save over 50% on a gift card from one of our exclusive partners. Conveniently find discount gift cards when you use our sweet extension called Otto. Whenever you are shopping on a brand website, Otto will notify you in the top-right corner of your screen if there are good gift card discounts available for the brand you want!
Stores are always having sales, especially during the holiday seasons. Check ahead of time on brand online sites, newsletters, or weekly ads to see when there will be sales at the stores you love.
Another great way to stack up your savings is to enter into a loyalty rewards program with the brand you want to buy from. Some of the most popular loyalty programs are Amazon Prime, Sephora Beauty Insider, and Starbucks Rewards. Through a program like one of these, you can earn gift cards and cash-back through consistently shopping with a brand you like.
If you don’t like the store which you have a gift card for, don’t give up hope yet! There may other store redemption options for you. With the merging of so many merchants, you needn't be restricted to just one retailer. A gift card from The Gap, for example, is also able to be redeemed at the corporation's other brand stores, which include Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Athleta. Examine the gift card policy on the back of your gift card or look for more details on the merchant website. Here are some popular gift cards you can redeem at other stores:
A regular brand gift card—like a Target or an Amazon gift card—will not usually charge any late fees or expire from lack of use. But general-use cards do. General-use gift cards include Visa, MasterCard, and American Express prepaid gift cards. Waiting too long to redeem these gift cards can cost you your money and your time. There are two big things you need to watch out for with these cards.
All general-use gift cards always have an activation fee (Visa’s is $2.95 to $6.95, depending on the size of the funds) However, what you might not know is that they are also susceptible to inactivity fees. If you do not use your gift card within a certain time period—usually around 12 months—your card will lose a few dollars of its value every month. Look for terms on the back of the card such as "inactivity," "maintenance" or "dormancy." These are the fees that will deplete your card's worth. Don’t lose money by waiting too long to spend the funds on your card!
While the funds on the general-use card will not expire (unless they are depleted by enough inactivity fees), if you don’t redeem your “general-use” card soon, the plastic gift card will expire, and you will have to request a new plastic card to hold your funds. A Visa gift card, for example, will require a new plastic card after only 12 months. Nobody wants to worry about the inconvenience of getting a new plastic card for their funds. So, make sure to get out and use your Visa gift card as soon as possible.
Lastly, physical gift cards are sometimes difficult to keep track of and can be easily misplaced. However, there are two simple ways you can ensure you don’t lose money when you lose a gift card.
When you purchase a gift card from a store or directly from the merchant, make sure you hang onto the original receipt. That way, in case your gift card is lost or damaged, you can contact the gift card issuer and ask for a replacement.
A mobile wallet allows you to store payment and gift card information on your phone. Therefore, you can quickly access your gift card information with just a few swipes and use it to pay for your order.