Never Pay Full Price When Buying Gift Cards

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Gift cards. Even though they are far from perfect – let’s face it, there’s a reason they have become so popular. They are convenient to buy, require minimal decision-making, and you get to spend exactly what you budgeted. While you may fall back upon a gift card, that doesn’t mean you have to spend full price on them!

Grocery Stores
You can now find gift cards from every store imaginable at your neighborhood supermarket, and certain credit cards give increased rewards at grocery stores.

Also, check for specific deals by your local chain stores. Safeway is popular in my area, and they are offering $10 towards your next purchase if you buy $100 in select gift cards from 11/24-12/6. In addition, through December 10th, Safeway also has 4x gas rewards points on all gift card purchases.

Gift Card Reseller Sites
A secondhand market for gift cards has sprung up on sites like PlasticJungle, Cardpool, GiftCards.com, and GiftCardRescue. You can buy both physical gift cards and electronic gift card codes. You might feel weird about giving a gift card for $48.44 instead of $50, but if you keep looking you can usually find a nice round number. Wrap that “used” gift card in a nice handmade card and envelope, or print electronic codes directly on the card. The good thing about these websites is that the transactions are guaranteed by the site and not some random person. I’ve bought a few cards from Plastic Jungle with no issues, usually Home Depot cards at 7% off.

eBay
The world’s biggest garage sale is another good source of discounted gift cards, although I would stick with sellers with excellent feedback ratings. Even as a former Powerseller, I haven’t been overly impressed with eBay’s customer service of late. Using a bid sniping service if you’re not using Buy It Now. You could even try Craigslist if you’re brave.

eBillme
These guys are trying to be the next PayPal payment service, and part of their business is selling discounted gift cards. However, read their terms and conditions carefully. New users can get 10% off a $100 Amazon gift certificate for a $10 credit, but you need $50 of credit to actually get a check mailed to you. Otherwise, you have buy something using eBillMe as the payment method from a participating merchant (like Sears or Buy.com) and apply that $10 credit to your purchase. Rather convoluted in my opinion, but may work out for you.

Cash Back Shopping Portals
When shopping online in general, there are now a bajillion cashback shopping portals that will get you cash, points, or miles of some kind. I usually prefer cash from eBates ($10 new user bonus), Mr. Rebates ($5 new user bonus), or BigCrumbs. You can use Evreward.com to compare them, however it doesn’t always keep up with the quickly-changing payouts during the holiday season.

Please note that for many merchants, purchases of gift cards are not eligible for cash back. You can always give it a try, but don’t include anything else in your cart because it might negate cash back on the entire purchase. One known exception: American Express Gift Cards. These are pretty close to cash, and BigCrumbs offers 1.6% cash back and there is a promotion code to waive the $3.95 purchase fee.

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My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

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Comments

  1. Many popular restaurants are also offering discounts right now. If you buy X amount you get X amount free. It’s a great deal if you want to give a gift and keep a little something for yourself!

  2. Jonathan, I have the Blue Cash card, but I wonder if they consider gift card purchases at grocery stores a “cash equivalent” and thus not eligible for the larger cash back amount.

    From their website: “Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of American Express Travelers Cheques, purchases or reloading of American Express prepaid cards or purchases of other cash equivalents. “

  3. Jonathan,

    Did you outsource this post? The grammar is terrible. Not up to your usual quality.

  4. @thefrugallery – That’s a good tip, I know that Baja Fresh and Jamba Juice have been offering extras if you buy gift cards from them.

    @Dan – That is the general policy of essentially all rewards cards, but I don’t think it’s possible for a credit card issuer to know if you bought a gift card amongst the milk and eggs. They might get suspicious of a $1,000.00 even number purchase, perhaps.

    @Mitch – Haha, I think I was just tired from the weekend. I cleaned it up a bit!

  5. I told a friend of mine about the Amex promo and he applied but was denied. He called one of the credit report companies and they can’t find anything wrong with his credit. His score is very high, his income is very good, and he always pays off the entire balance on all his credit cards. The only thing we can think of is that he might not have enough of a history. He finished college in the spring of ’10. But he got a fulltime job right after school. He has several retail cards and a credit card through his bank. He’s wondering if Amex’s criteria tend to be more stringent than other creditors. Amex sent him one of those standard denial letters that list very vague reasons as to why he didn’t qualify. He’s really disappointed. Does anyone know what he should do, who he can call, or why he may have been denied?

  6. Gift Card Deals says

    We just launched Free Gift Card Week that hosts all of the best gift card deals. Most of the major merchants give away a bonus card that can be used for a limited amount of time the next year. Some of the most popular merchants include Chipotle, Outback Steakhouse and Carraba’s.

  7. #1 SmartyPig is a good source for gift cards. You add funds then withdraw using gift cards as the method. We get 10% discount on Banana Republic this way. If you want to buy a TemperPedic bed from Macy’s for $3,000, you can get a Macy’s discount this way too.

    #2 I have purchased over 100 gift cards through eBay. While most transactions run smooth, some were a bit of a headache. Some were fraudulent and some were by amateur sellers that stick gift cards in letters with no other details. So, you have no idea who you bought it from. eBay is a decent source, but not without its headaches. Ever since eBay stopped the rebates via BigCrumbs.

  8. You can also exchange coins for gift cards through Coinstar. This will save you from the coinstar service fee, ultimately saving $$$.

    http://giftcardblogger.com/exchange-coins-for-gift-cards-at-coinstar/2011/06/09/

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