4 Tips To Use Gift Cards

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.

1. Stack Your 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.


These are a great way to knock a few dollars off your purchase. Check out awesome sites like MyCoupons.com or Groupon to find coupons and promotional codes to use with your gift cards.

Gift Card Deals

If you're looking for a smart shopping strategy when it comes to buying gift cards, look no further. Gift Card Granny features hundreds of physical and digital gift cards. And with you gift card purchase, you earn cash back rewards. Get a perk when you buy gift cards to your favorite retailers and restaurants on Gift Card Granny.

In-Store Sales

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.

Loyalty Rewards

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. 

2. Use a Gift Card at Multiple Brands

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:

Outback Steakhouse

  • Bonefish Grill
  • Carrabba's
  • Italian Grill
  • Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Neiman Marcus

  • Bergdorf Goodman
  • Cusp
  • Horchow
  • Last Call


  • Converse

American Eagle

  • Aerie


  • Sam’s Club
3. Use Your Prepaid Gift Card Sooner Rather than Later

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.

Monthly Inactivity Fees

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!

The Physical Plastic Card Can Expire and Will Need to Be Replaced

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.

4. Don’t Lose Money When You Lose a Card

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.

Keep your original receipt.

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.

Store your gift card information in a mobile wallet.

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.