Christmas came and went, as it does every year. All of the gifts have been opened, and many of us have most likely received a gift card.
The popularity of gift cards has been rising. According to CEB Tower Group we’ve seen a 47% increase in gift card sales over the last 5 years, with over $118 Billion spent on gift cards this year!
Gift cards are a great way to assure that no “ugly” Christmas sweater is waiting for us underneath the tree, and they allow us much more flexibility and options with buying what we really want.
There are, however, a few areas to watch out for in order to get the most out of our gift cards.
Use it ALL up!
Did you know that there is a $1 Billion in unredeemed gift cards just waiting to be spent, but much of it probably won’t be? How can you make sure you get the most our of your gift card?
– It’s very common to have an unused balance left on a gift card. Often, after making our purchase, we will forget that there is still $5 or so left to be redeemed. In order to use 100% of your card, make sure you keep the receipt showing the remaining balance, mark it with a highlighter and keep it together with your card in a visible place.
– Check your expiration date and make sure that you use all of your balance before the card expires. Most gift cards will adhere to the 5-year expiration requirement, but some may not!
– Some gift cards will have transaction fees or other fees associated with them. Make sure you know how the fees are being charged so you make the most of your gift.
Gift cards can pose a temptation for us to overspend. If there is an item we really wanted but couldn’t afford, having an extra $50 to offset the cost can create an illusion that now we can purchase that item. If you have to combine your credit card with your gift card in order to make the purchase, you probably should not be buying it anyway!
So enjoy the balance of your gift card and if your budget is tight, stick to your gift card’s amount. You’ll treat yourself to something nice PLUS you won’t have a credit card bill showing up in your mailbox the next month asking you to pay up!
Combine you deals!
Getting a gift card is a deal in itself. Can you imagine combining this gift with additional sales and coupons? This is how you maximize your gift!
– Decide what you want to get with your gift card and than search for the best deals before you head out shopping
– Look for additional coupon codes or coupons on line
– If it’s a seasonal item, make sure you wait for the best sale
What if you don’t like your gift card?
Yes, this actually is a dilemma for some! Store specific gift cards can sometimes “miss” the mark and you may end up with a gift card to a store you never shop at, don’t like or have no need for.
You could, with some creativity, turn this gift card into cash.
Sites like The Card Yard or Cardpool will give you cash for your gift card. It won’t be 100% cash back, but it beats not using your gift at all and you will still get 80%-90% of your card’s value. You can also use these sites to purchase gift cards at a discount!
So here is to enjoying your gift cards to the fullest without blowing your budget!