Gift cards are a way of life in America. Each year, about 93 percent of the nation’s citizens either give or receive these little plastic retail wonders, according to GiftCards.com.
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.
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 more tips, check out “How Unwanted Gift Cards Saved Me $300 Last Year.”
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:
- New Jersey
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 in December
Each holiday season, scores of restaurants offer to give you free bonus gift cards when you buy a gift card at the regular price. That makes December the perfect time to stock up on these cards.
You’ll have to wait until December to see what’s available. But to look at the bargains offered in 2016 – and to get a sneak peek of what might be to come – check out “17 Restaurants Offering Free Gift Cards for the Holidays.”
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 P.F. Chang’s gift cards for $79.99, or four $25 Cold Stone Creamery gift cards for $69.99.
- Sam’s Club card bargains include a $500 Southwest Airlines card for $485.98 and three $20 gift cards to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit for $47.98.
- BJ’s offers cards at a discount of up to 25 percent for The Cheesecake Factory, AMC and more.
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.
- “Earn Up to $2,700 a Year Watching Videos, Answering Surveys“
- “3 Ways to Get Paid for Searching the Web“
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 this 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.