Looking for a way to stretch your shopping dollars? Get gift cards for less than their face value. If you pay $80 for a retailer card that has a value of $100, it’s like finding $20 in FREE money. You should never have to buy gift cards at full price. Here are five strategies for finding them at a discount.
1. Cash in on user loyalty programs
Many people already know that credit card and frequent flyer programs offer gift cards in exchange for points earned on customer purchases. If you have these types of accounts, review them every few months to see if you’ve earned enough points to redeem for a gift card.
Beyond airlines and banks, however, there are many companies that offer loyalty programs which earn points redeemable for gift cards.
The Coca Cola Company offers MyCokeRewards, which lets users earn points, anywhere from one to 20, for purchases of its soft drink and affiliated beverages. At last check, accumulating just 300 points could earn a $25 gift card.
Plink is a fairly new rewards company that has reportedly received three million dollars in venture funding to expand its loyalty program. If you sign up, you can receive points for money spent dining out and shopping at various retailers across the country. Get enough points, and you can redeem them for gift cards from Amazon, HomeDepot, iTunes and other online sites. You have to share your credit card information when you sign up, but as long as you use that same credit card for your dining purchases, you shouldn’t have to worry about carrying an additional customer loyalty card or key fob.
2. Check gift card swap websites
Card swap websites are exchanges where people who have gift cards they don’t plan to use are willing to sell them at a discount. Popular swap sites include GiftCardRescue and GiftCardBin. These sites make their money by charging a small fee for each transaction, but you can often find a card for between 4% and 20% off the face value.
It’s important to make sure you stick to websites that have established customer satisfaction policies. According to Gift Card Rescue, if a paper or plastic gift card you receive is not the one you purchased, or the value you receive is different from what was advertised, you can get a full refund within 60 days.
Because these are often “re-gifted” cards, previous purchases may have been made on them, and they may be left with odd balance amounts ($14.81 instead of $25, for example). You probably wouldn’t want to give the card out as a gift to someone else, but you could use those funds to go towards a present for a friend or family member.
3. Look up warehouse plans
Warehouse clubs such as Sam’s Club or Costo sell discounted gift cards at both their physical locations and websites. The cards are often for casual dining restaurants and entertainment establishments. You get them at a discount because you are usually buying in bulk — often agreeing to buy two or three cards at once. The savings are up to 20% off the face value of the card, however, so if you have a favorite restaurant that you visit regularly, they can be a good deal.
4. Use auction sites
An alternative to gift swapping sites are auction sites, such as eBay. You can search by retailer and card value and find sellers who give discounts that are similar to those on card swap sites, often around 20% off retail. But be careful, since there is a risk that you could be unwittingly buying a fraudulent card. To help decrease the odds you’ll run into a problem, stick with sellers who have good reputations and positive feedback.
5. Enter blog contests
There are many websites dedicated to advertising sweepstakes for gift cards. Sites such as Online-Sweepstakes usually feature daily contests. There is generally no obligation to buy anything, with the only requirements to enter leaving a comment or “liking” the company on social media. It takes just minutes to enter a typical contest. There’s no guarantee that you’ll win, but there are so many contests out there that you could find a new one to enter every day. Enter often enough, and you may be pleasantly surprised by winning a gift card for the most discounted price of all — free.