Pay with Discounted Gift Cards to Save Even More

This is a Guest Post by Donna Freedman, freelance writer and blogger who really knows how to stretch a buck—and willingly tells all. Donna writes for Money Talks News and blogs about money and midlife at DonnaFreedman.com.

Black Friday ads are already starting to leak. Here’s a way to make this season’s hot deals even hotter: Pay with a discounted gift card.

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Cheap cards are available through resellers such as Cardpool, ABC Gift Cards, Card Cash, Raise and Gift Card Zen. You’ll see discounts of 3 to 30 percent (sometimes more) for cards from your favorite retailers.

The former owners either got gift cards that didn’t fit (think “steakhouse scrip for a vegetarian”) or need the money more than the credit.

Buying a gift card does limit you to a specific retailer. But if you know you’ll be treating your BFF to hair-care goodies from Sephora or buying an Old Navy hoodie for your kid brother, why not make those buying dollars go further?

(Or just give the discounted card outright and let your recipients do their own shopping.)

The simplest way to shop is to go through an aggregator site called Gift Card Granny, which lists the discounts resellers are offering. Note, too, that these sites will buy your own unwanted cards for up to 95% of face value. (Great-Aunt Rose meant well, but you’re really not a Lands End kind of gal.)

The cards have all been checked to ensure the balances are correct. Depending on the reseller, they may be guaranteed only for a certain amount of time. Although I have never had a problem, you might want to time your card purchases closer to the actual use (Christmas, birthday, wedding-gift shopping).

Get a few cards for your own seasonal pleasures, be the end-of-the-year blockbusters or iTunes downloads of your favorite holiday music. Smart shoppers can use discounted gift cards year round for electronics, groceries, dinners out, pet products, gasoline, clothing, movie tickets and more. (Recently I saved more than $100 on a home-improvement project by using discounted Home Depot cards to pay for materials.)

The cards you receive might have seasonal or occasion-specific designs, such as Valentine hearts or wedding bells. They may also have been partially used before being sold—you’ll see cards with balances of $22.47 or $63.89 along with unused cards with round-number balances.

Your sister might think it’s funny to get a card with a graduation-cap logo. If you end up with a card design you don’t like, go to the retailer in question and use the card to purchase a plain one.

A cash-back site, Extrabux, offers a 1.5% rebate on cards purchased through the Cardpool reseller. I saved an additional $9.78 on that home improvement project by ordering the Home Depot cards from Cardpool.

Finally: When buying your discounted cards, don’t forget to pay for that discounted scrip with a rewards credit card. Win-win!

Question: Would you re-gift a gift card? Have you ever purchased one for discount from gift-card reseller? How did that turn out?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • marysews

    Publix grocery stores occasionally sell gas cards at a discount. For every $50 of groceries purchased, we get a $50 gas card for $40. It works well for us since we actually shop there. We’ve learned to buy as little as possible when it’s not “gas card weekend.” It’ a great way to buy gas at 40% off. We buy the Shell gift card, but they also sell gift cards for at least one other gas station.

    • Mary Hunt

      Love it!

  • Tracy

    My son works for a major store. I was not aware of the hundreds of thousands of hours that are put into trying to stop shoplifting. The amount they lose each year (and this is just one of many stores) is staggering. People shoplift, return the item and get a store card. Then they sell it to one of the sites that will pay them 95%. It makes me wonder how many of these cards are from shoplifting. I wish there was a way they could stop this. They are trying. I just wince when I hear about buying these discounted cards. Sorry to be a downer this morning. I just don’t ever want to purchase these knowing what goes on behind the scenes. Sorry…..

    • Donna Freedman

      That may be true some of the time, but surely not ALL of the time. I’ve sold gift cards that way myself, and interviewed people who have done the same.

    • Mary Hunt

      Tracy … Shoplifting is a problem that all retailers deal with these days. But to assume that all discounted gift cards have some nefarious origin is not right. My feeling that most come from legitimate sources and present a way that consumers can work together for the good of everyone. Have you ever considered how many gift cards your son’s employer sells and accepts the full face amount for them, but are not redeemed fully—pocketing the difference because they refuse to give change back on the unused portion of the card? I’m only guessing, but given the well-known statistics, I have a feeling the retailer is not the loser in that game. Thanks for your comment. It makes us think!

    • Emily Booth

      Returns w/out a receipt are issued a store credit. Some of these resellers indicate if the card they’re selling is a store credit or gift care; some do not. I recently purchased what I thought was a gift card and it was not; it was a store credit. I contacted the reseller and was told they can’t distinguish the cards right now at their website but that the amount was a good indicator when the amount is not a whole dollar amount. I have this store credit and I just don’t feel comfortable being party to a criminal enterprise.

  • DianaB

    Certainly an interesting concept. I might have to actually look into that one, even for my own use. I guess I am not one to worry about shoplifting and getting the ‘return refund’ on a store card. The shoplifting issue is a certainly a concern for the retailer where their issue would be the product lost, but not mine when it would come to one of these cards.

  • Lisa

    We have been budgeting for this summer’s vacation and plan to purchase restaurant gift cards during the holiday season. Many restaurants offer holiday deals like purchase a $50 gift card and get a $10 gift card free. We plan to purchase ones now that we can use during our vacation travels.

    • Mary Hunt

      That’s a great idea!

  • Jon Perry

    Because I am an avid reader, I guess people assume I buy books, but I get most of them at the library, so for my milestone birthday a few years ago, I received several gift cards for Barnes and Noble. I had been tossing around the idea of a Nook color tablet but wouldn’t spend $200. My B&N cards totaled $130. I found a website called Plastic Jungle and they had a B&N $100 card for $70. I found no complaints about the site, so I bought the card, then bought my Nook. Plastic Jungle has different cards all the time and they pay different percentages for your cards, depending on popularity, so you have to check back frequently; I was lucky, they only had one B&N card and I snagged it!

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