08 Dec 8 Savvy Tips to Get the Most Value out of Gift Cards
It’s that time of year again when gift cards are aplenty. Though it’s not the most sentimental presents you might receive or give for that matter, gift cards remain one of the most requested gifts for the holidays. In case you’d receive a few gift cards these coming weeks, don’t let them get buried somewhere and go to waste. Make the most out of those useful gifts by keeping in mind the following savvy shopping tips.
Know the fees
As governed and protected by the Credit CARD Act, gift cards should be available for use for at least five years. For the first year after it was purchased, issuers are not allowed to charge any fees on the gift cards. Beyond the one year time frame, issuers can charge only one fee per month. Make sure you’re aware of the fees so you’ll know when to use the cards that will give you the most value.
Mark your calendar
Ideally, you are advised to use the cards within a year from the date they were purchased. This is so you don’t waste the funds on covering fees or any related charges. By marking your calendar, you won’t have to blame forgetfulness as the culprit behind not making the most of those gift cards.
Know the different gift card types
There are two basic types of gift cards. The closed loop cards are designed for specific retailers while the open loop cards are generally acceptable anywhere. Each type has its advantages and it your job to know which one you received. With closed loop, there are usually no fees. On the downside, you may not always find a specific retailer nearby. Open loop cards, on one hand, typically come with a fee but the trade-off is that you can practically use it anywhere.
Combine Gift Cards with Coupons
While you can’t combine coupons, you can use this strategy with gift cards and coupons. By doing so, you get to not only enjoy free money but you also leverage the shopping power it offers you. To find coupons, you can search online which you can then use side by side your gift cards when completing your purchases.
Just because you have a gift doesn’t mean you should use it for the sake of using it. While it’s important to use it quickly, also equally important is to use it smartly. If you really want to make the most out of it, you need to make sure that you’re making a smart purchase. Sometimes, it means you’ll have to wait until you see something worth buying.
Check gift card balance periodically
In case you don’t know it yet, yes, there are gift card thieves too. Thieves have figured out a way to steal the funds out of your gift cards once activated. One way to fight back the scammers is to check your gift card balance periodically. You can do it through the issuers’ websites and while at it, you might also want to check the terms in cases of theft. In the event that you suspect fraud, report it to the card issuer or retailer immediately.
Exchange gift cards for cash
If you have far too many gift cards you don’t know how to use anymore, you can always exchange them for cash. In some cases, you may redeem gift cards for cash if the funds meet the required threshold amount. You can also sell it if you need cash more than the shopping power gift cards offer. Either way, the key is to not let those gift cards gather dust. Clean your wallet and drawers of gift cards before it expires and become completely worthless.