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Gift Cards: Ways to Save Money This Year

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Once again, gift cards are the most requested gift, making Santa’s sleigh lighter this holiday season.

If you are looking to buy gift cards for friends and family, here are a few tips to help you save some green on those plastic purchases.

1. Buy Discounted Cards

Sam’s Club and Costco sell a variety of gift cards for discounted prices.

You can also check out online gift exchanges like GiftCards.com, Cardpool, and Cardhub.

Marc Ackerman, co-founder of CardCash.com, said, “You’ll pay less than face value, so you’re actually getting free money on each purchase.”

According to Yahoo Finance, these sites, such as GiftCardGranny.com, buy and sell gift cards at an average discount of 13.7 percent. Shipping is free most of the time. However, you have to be wary of fraud.

Steven J.J. Weisman, editor of the security blog, Scamicide, says that fraud on gift card exchanges usually involves cards that are stolen, counterfeit, or that do not have the value represented to be on the card.

2. Look for Promotions from Local Retailers

Many merchants, especially restaurants, run special discounts on gift cards during the holidays. For example, Chili’s is offering a free $10 bonus card when you spend $50 in gift cards. Applebee’s is offering the same deal. You can find a more detailed listing at Eat Drink Deals.

3. Shop With Reward Points

Many credit card companies are now offering significant discounts on gift cards. Chase Ultimate Rewards members are able to purchase various gift cards for 10 to 20 percent fewer points than normally required.

“This is a great untapped resource for savings,” said Janna Herron, a credit card analyst at Bankrate.com. “It’s an easy way to stretch your rewards and your holiday budget, and maybe use up points or miles that are about to expire.”

4. Never Pay for Shipping

“The average shipping charge is $4.44,” said Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEO. “Don’t waste your money on that.”

Digital gift cards are becoming popular for this very reason. Or you can find an online store that does not charge shipping. However, some of the stores that offer service this require that you pick up the card from the local store (Ship to Store option).

5. Sell Unwanted Cards

The average payout for unwanted cards is approximately 40-92 percent, depending on the company.

“If you have a gift card that you don’t plan to use, and you can turn that into cash, why not?” said Kendal Perez, marketing manager with GiftCardGranny.com. “It’s a no-brainer.”

Websites that buy gifts cards usually offer various ways to receive your money, such as PayPal or check. If you take the payment in the form of an Amazon card, some sites, such as Gift Card Granny, offer a bonus of approximately 4 to 5 percent.

6. The Classic Regifting

Don’t feel bad. We’ve all done it. Wrap the card in nice packaging and voila!

You can even use the old card to purchase several smaller cards to give away.

If there’s an odd amount of money left on the card, add more to round out the total to an even number.

A few parting tips:

* don’t buy gifts cards from online classified sites such as Craigslist.
* stick to large retail sites that offer money-back guarantees.
* treat your gifts cards like cash. They can be used at merchants, no ID required.

Happy (and discounted) shopping this holiday season!

image via: Thinkstock

Gift Cards: Ways to Save Money This Year
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