Best Sites for Buying Discounted Gift Cards

Photo (cc) by 401(K) 2012

Half of Americans say they’ve already planned out their holiday shopping and even set aside the money for this year’s gifts – and it’s no small chunk of change, according to a recent study.

The Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey found that we expect to spend an average of $582 on holiday shopping this season. More than 20 percent of us plan to exceed $750.

But what if you could get extra mileage out of your $582, or your $750? On top of what Black Friday and the usual holiday sales could save you?

Discount gift cards can do just that – for savings of up to 35 percent on top of sales, coupons, and other discounts. The only hitch is that you have to plan ahead: You need to figure out what gifts you’ll buy where and then start ordering gift cards for those stores now so they arrive before Black Friday and the height of the holiday shopping season.

But first determine which discount gift card website to buy from: Inventories constantly change, so you’ll want to check each website’s prices before each gift card purchase. Or use Gift Card Granny, which searches the prices of multiple websites at once.

You’ll also want to mind the fine print, but we’ve taken care of that step for you by comparing some of the most popular websites that sell discounted gift cards…

1. ABC Gift Cards

  • Stated savings: Up to 35 percent.
  • Brands/stores available: Not specified.
  • Shipping: Free.
  • Sales tax: Not specified.
  • Fees and expiration dates: Not specified.
  • Guarantee: “We extensively verify and validate every card we sell. If a card turns out to be a fraudulent card or if there is a balance discrepancy we will either replace the card or refund the purchase if a customer contacts us during our 45 Day Buyer Protection Period.”
  • Guarantee details: Valid for up to 45 days from the date of purchase. (See the “Goods Not As Described 45 Day Return Policy” section of their Terms & Conditions for more details.)
  • Return policy: They have a strict no-return policy unless the balance on the card you received didn’t reflect what you purchased, so you’re otherwise stuck with your purchase.

2. Cardpool

  • Stated savings: Up to 35 percent.
  • Brands/stores available: Not specified, but they carry physical and electronic gift cards. If they’re out of what you’re looking for, you can add it to your “Wishlist” and they’ll let you know when they get it back in stock.
  • Shipping: Free.
  • Sales tax: None.
  • Fees and expiration dates: “We exclusively carry hassle-free gift cards that have no fees and no expiration.”
  • Guarantee: “If you purchase any gift card from Cardpool, we guarantee it will be valid at the merchant and to the dollar amount specified on your order.”
  • Guarantee details: Valid for up to 100 days from the date of your purchase; covers up to $1,000 per customer. (See the “Purchase Guarantee” section of their Terms of Use for more details.)
  • Return policy: According to their guarantee, “If you are not satisfied with your Cardpool purchase for any reason, you may return your unused gift card for a full refund.” But the fine print says their return policy doesn’t apply to electronic gift cards, so you’re stuck with those. And the Terms of Use state that you can only return gift cards that are in the exact same condition (and value) you received them in.

3. GiftCardRescue.com

  • Stated savings: Up to 30 percent.
  • Brands/stores available: More than 250.
  • Shipping: Free. (But whether you choose free or expedited shipping, note that you must contact them immediately if you don’t receive your purchase within 10 days because they won’t investigate or refund claims after 10 days.)
  • Sales tax: Not specified.
  • Fees and expiration dates: Not specified.
  • Guarantee: “We will give you a full refund if: The gift card you received is not the card you purchased, or the value on the gift card you received is different from what was advertised or indicated at checkout.”
  • Guarantee details: Valid for up to 60 days from the date of purchase. (See the “Guarantee and Return Policy” section of their Terms & Conditions for more details.)
  • Return policy: They will not accept returns whatsoever after 60 days. And if the reason for your return is not covered by their guarantee, you’ll be charged a 10 percent restocking fee.

4. Plastic Jungle

  • Stated savings: Up to 35 percent.
  • Brands/stores available: More than 400, including physical and electronic gift cards (which they call “eCODES”). If they’re out of what you’re looking for, you can sign up for notifications, and they’ll let you know when they get it back in stock.
  • Shipping: Standard is free (5 to 7 days); priority (3 to 5 days) and express (1 to 3 days) will cost you.
  • Sales tax: Not specified.
  • Fees and expiration dates: “Gift cards on Plastic Jungle have no additional fees or expiration dates.”
  • Guarantee: “When you purchase any gift card from Plastic Jungle, we guarantee you will receive the gift card(s) within 3 weeks from the date of purchase, and the gift card(s) will be valid at the retailer for the dollar amount specified on your order.”
  • Guarantee details: Valid for up to 60 days from the date of purchase; covers up to $1,000 per customer. (See the “Buyer Guarantee” section of their Terms of Use for more details.)
  • Return policy: All sales are final, so unless your purchase failed to live up to their guarantee, you’re stuck with it.

Karla Bowsher covers consumer, retail, and health issues. If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, leave a comment or contact her at [email protected].

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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