With the current state of the economy, saving extra money is on everyone's minds. One option that most people overlook is to use gift cards. Yes, those sometimes annoying gifts can actually save you a lot on purchases you were going make anyway. The intention of this article is to share tips on how to save money using this overlooked method.
Using Gift Cards to Save Money
Using gift cards is a frequently overlooked method of saving money. Getting the gift cards for less than face value means you can get great deals at places you were going to shop.
Basic ground rules
The basic idea of saving money with gift cards is simple - get them for less than their value! It sounds crazy but it's not as hard as it seems.
First of all many people just do not like gift cards and refuse to use them. They will happily part with the cards for a discount just to get cash! Secondly, people often get stuck with gift cards for stores they do not frequent, or even stores that have no locations in their area. If this is a store that you shop at you are in luck because you can get a deal!
The next sections will discuss some good ways of getting cards at a discount.
Discounted cards on Ebay
Ebay is a great source of gift cards and other products. Many people resell unwanted cards at steep discounts. Since it is an auction site and not a managed marketplace, it can be very hit or miss.
Having said that, Ebay has by far the biggest selection of gift cards of any sites. The sheer size of the site makes it a perfect place for discount hunting. Also since cards are listed by individual sellers, it is the one site where you can find a true deal. Most other managed gift card marketplaces will list cards at their specific discounts, which can be quite small.
To get great deals on Ebay gift cards you have to be quick. Bidding is almost useless as most reasonable gift cards will go for face value (or even ABOVE). Concentrate on the buy-it-now listings and find a way see new listings fast.
Discounted cards on Reseller sites
In addition to Ebay, there are now many discounted gift card reselling sites. Unfortunately they don't usually offer very high discounts due to their popularity, especially for gift cards to major stores. Still sometimes you can find a bargain and every little bit helps. Here are some popular ones I have found useful:
Gift card rescue is a bit under the radar but has a good selection at reasonable prices. The owner was on Shark Tank and got an offer so you know he's doing something right. As the site has gotten older, the discounts have unfortunately decreased but it is still a good secure site.
Raise.com, formerly coupontrade.com is a big entrant in the market. Immediately out of the gates they had a great selection at good prices. They also seem to list more obscure local gift cards that other sites won't touch. At least for me in Chicago they seem to have some local restaurant gift cards at great discounts. Definitely worth a look
How to stay safe while buying discounted cards
OK now that we've covered some good ways of getting discounted cards, the next big question is: what about security? Is it safe to do this?
Many merchants, not wanting customers to get their gift cards at a discount, publicly discourage and warn against purchasing second hand gift cards. To be sure, there are risks. Some scammers have been known to sell gift cards and then drain or cancel them after the sale.
The most important way to stay safe is use a credit card with purchase protection when buying cards. Do not buy from sites that do not take credit cards, like craigslist. All of the decent discounted card sites will take credit cards including Ebay via Paypal.
Now if something goes wrong you have at least 2 months from the time of the purchase to dispute the charge with your credit card company. Most decent credit card companies will listen to you and side with you if you have been scammed. So rest easy!
In addition, most of the reputable discount sites have their own protection and guarantee schemes. For example Ebay has Ebay Buyer Protection which actually works quite well and gives you 45 days to dispute the transaction if something goes wrong. Don't be afraid to use these tools if you've been scammed!
Sample listings on Ebay
Some sample listings right now on Ebay
Favorite Discount Gift Card Site
Vote for your favorite site for getting discount gift cards!
Links to sites where gift cards are useful