Gift cards are a way of life in America. And if you know the right secrets, you can buy gift cards for less than you may realize is possible — not to mention getting them for free.
You can also make gift cards pay off to a greater degree than you likely realize.
Following are gift card hacks that every savvy shopper should know.
1. Buy gift cards at wholesale clubs
Wholesale clubs sell certain gift cards at a discount. For example:
- Costco is offering a 2 P.F. Chang’s gift cards worth $100 for a price of $79.99 and 2 Buca di Beppo gift cards worth $100 each for a price of just $69.99. (Yes, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, you probably won’t be dining out for a while, but you could use the discounted cards for curbside pickup, or just hold them until after restaurants open again, and go celebrate!)
- Sam’s Club bargains range from $50 in Ghirardelli Chocolate cards for $34.91 to $50 in Saint Louis Zoo gift cards for $34.98.
- BJ’s offers savings — big and small — on gift cards for everything from restaurants to movies.
2. Buy and sell gift cards at discount gift card sites
Buying a gift card at a discount gift card website — such as Raise.com — is another great way to boost your savings, as you can buy gift cards for less than their face value.
You can also sell your unwanted gift cards at such sites, which are essentially platforms that enable folks with unwanted gift cards to sell them to savvy shoppers.
3. Buy restaurant gift cards in spring or fall
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 the holiday season of November and December the perfect time to stock up on these cards.
The lead-up weeks to Mother’s Day (coming up on May 10), Father’s Day and spring graduation season are also a good time to get a good deal. For recent examples, check out “13 Major Restaurants Offering Gift Card Freebies Right Now.”
4. Get free gift cards for doing tasks
The rewards program Swagbucks and others like it offer free gift cards for simply searching the web, answering surveys or completing other online tasks that you likely already do anyway.
To learn more, check out “5 Ways to Score Free Gift Cards and Cash in 1 Place.”
5. Cash out rebates in gift cards at Ibotta
The Ibotta app allows you to get cash rebates for purchases.
When you’re ready to cash out, you can receive your earnings via PayPal or Venmo. But if you prefer, you can get paid in gift cards — to Walmart, Target, iTunes and Sephora, among others — instead of cash.
6. Use the Target trade-in program
Did Aunt Edna give you a gift card to a retailer you don’t really like? Take it to a Target store that participates in the retailer’s trade-in program. There, you can trade that card for a Target gift card that you can use in stores or online.
To find out which Target stores participate in the trade-in program or which retailers’ gift cards Target accepts for trade, visit the program’s webpage.
7. Exchange gift cards for cash in some states
Several states have laws that require merchants to give you cash for the remaining balance on merchant-issued gift cards upon request, according to GiftCards.com.
Just note that the remaining gift card balance threshold — and other circumstances for cashing out gift cards — varies from state to state.