7 Gift Card Secrets Every Shopper Should Know

Gift cards
Iryna Tiumentseva / Shutterstock.com

Gift cards are a way of life in America. According to recent market research, they remain one of the most commonly purchases gifts, and one of the most welcome gifts to recipients.

If you know the right gift card secrets, you can make gift cards pay off to an even greater degree. Following are seven gift card hacks that every savvy shopper should know.

Use the Target gift card trade-in program

Did Aunt Edna give you a gift card to a retailer you don’t really like? Take that card to Target, and trade it in for one of the retailer’s own gift cards.

Target has a list of gift cards it accepts on its website. Just note that you might not get full value for the card.

Click here to learn more about Target and gift cards.

Buy and sell gift cards at discount gift card sites

Buying a gift card at a discount gift card website is another great way to boost your savings. Several such sites exist, and the bargains vary depending on which site you choose.

For example, we recently saw Target gift cards for up to 4 percent off and Cabela’s gift cards for 10.5 percent off at Raise.

You can also sell your unwanted gift cards at these sites. As we reported earlier this year, Raise has lowered its fees, allowing you to keep more of the profits on cards you sell there.

Exchange gift cards for cash in these 12 states

Some states have laws entitling you to receive cash back for your gift cards under certain circumstances, according to GiftCards.com.

You can get cash back in California if your gift card has less than $10 in value. In Colorado, it’s $5 or less.

Other states that allow you to cash in when less than $5 remains on your cards include:

  • Maine
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Washington

Get cash back if your card is worth less than $3 in Connecticut, less than $2.50 in Texas, and less than $1 in Rhode Island or Vermont.

Massachusetts law entitles you to a cash refund if a nonreloadable card has less than 10 percent of its value, or a reloadable card has less than $5 in value.

Buy restaurant gift cards around the holidays

Each holiday season, scores of restaurants offer to give you free bonus gift cards when you buy a gift card at the regular price. December is the very best time to stock up on these cards.

Get discount gift cards at warehouse clubs

If you belong to a warehouse club, you might get a discounted price on gift cards for your favorite restaurants and retailers. For example:

  • Costco offers deals like two $50 McCormick and Schmick’s gift cards for $79.99, or four $15 Krispy Kreme doughnuts gift cards for $44.99.
  • Sam’s Club card bargains include a two $25 gift cards for California Pizza Kitchen for $39.98 and several gift cards for movie theater tickets.
  • BJ’s offers savings — big and small — at dozens of retailers and restaurants.

Get free gift cards for doing tasks

The internet abounds with websites that will reward you with free gift cards for simply searching the web, answering surveys or completing other tasks.

Such sites include Swagbucks, Microsoft Rewards, MyPoints and countless others. For more on how these sites work, check out:

Cash out in gift cards at Ibotta

The Ibotta app allows you to get cash back for purchasing specific grocery items. But if you prefer, you can get paid in gift cards — to Walmart, Target, iTunes and Sephora, among others — instead of cash.

For more information, check out the Ibotta blog on the topic.

Do you know about other great ways to squeeze more from gift cards? Share your tips by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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