11 Ways To Use Gift Cards Wisely
One of the nicest ways your friends and family can show that they care about you is by giving you a gift card. Gift cards sourced from different retailers can be a good way for you to enjoy shopping (either in real time or online). Sadly, though, some people aren’t that savvy about how they can properly use those gift cards they receive.
If you’d like to know more about gift cards, keep reading and you’ll learn more about the ways you can use them.
What Is A Gift Card?
A gift card is a kind of rebate program offered by certain retailers to reward consumers who like to shop from their website or physical store. What this means in simple terms is that the gift card can be used as good as cash to buy the goods or services of participating retailers.
So, for example, someone gives you a USD$10 gift card from a clothing retailer. You then buy something from that retailer’s website worth, say, USD$100. If you use your gift card for that purchase, that means you only need to fork over USD$90 in cash because the gift card is worth USD$10. You now have a nice piece of clothing and you saved $10 in cash because you used the gift card.
To save more money, you can even explore ways to get free Target gift cards online if you want to shop in that particular store.
Different Ways To Use A Gift Card
There are actually some great ways you can use any gift card you receive. Here are some of them:
- Keep Your Gift Cards Handy in Your Purse or Wallet – It’s true that gift cards need to be in your mind when you go shopping. It’s best then to put any gift card you receive in your purse or wallet so that you remember to use them. Lots of people forget to use gift cards because these are hidden away in their closet or in a drawer in their study. So, it’s best to have them handy for those times you will be spending a lot.
- Take Note of the Season – There are certain times or seasons when retailers tend to offer more items at reduced prices. For example, many retailers may have a store-wide clearance sale in Spring since a new batch of items will be coming in soon. If your gift card is valid for use even for items that are already discounted, that means you get big savings. But even if the items are at their regular price range, it does make sense to use gift cards at certain seasons, especially when you need to buy something.
- Have Cash Handy to Back Up Your Gift Card – This is really a wise strategy when you go shopping. If you happen to have a USD$5 gift card and see something that’s worth just USD$3 for that retailer, you can check if there’s something additional you can use the remaining USD$2 of the gift card for. Now, if there’s nothing at the flat rate of $2 but there are some slightly more expensive goods that you do need or want, just check if you have some cash to pay for the remainder. So, you just bought two items that you really like and you only had to pay a little bit more—PLUS you used up the gift card with zero wastage. Isn’t that great?
- Give It Away to Someone Else – If you’re really lucky (or maybe very likeable), people might give you a lot of gift cards for special occasions like your birthday or during Christmas. You might realize that you’re never going to be able to use up all those gift cards yourself (especially if they have an expiration date). So, what do you do? You can actually give away some gift cards to your other friends or relatives. To make it extra special, volunteer to accompany the recipient to the store so you can see what they’d like to buy (if they have the money for it). This way, you not only made the recipient very happy, but you also get to have some time off just window shopping. You might even spot some stuff that you’d like to buy for yourself this time.
- Buy Stuff for People Close to You – One of the better benefits of having your own stash of gift cards is that you can readily use these to buy gifts for other people. These gift cards actually become a kind of incentive so that you’ll be motivated to remember occasions that are special for them. Examples of these occasions are birthdays and wedding anniversaries. Not only will you save quite a bit by using your gift cards, but you get to offer something nice to the recipient that might otherwise be out of your financial reach at that time.
- Donate Some Items to Charity – It’s very important to help the less fortunate not just with cash, but also with some other stuff you could purchase with your gift card. A good example is groceries—many retailers may offer gift cards for food items that have to go on sale. You could buy the groceries with the appropriate gift card and bring the food to a charity soup kitchen or shelter for the homeless. Not only are you helping retailers avoid wasting valuable and perfectly good food, but you would be doing a good deed that’ll really help people who need it.
- Sell Your Surplus Gift Cards at Discounted Prices – So, you have all these gift cards but you know you may never get to use them. If the gift cards haven’t expired yet, you can get some quick cash by selling your stash to friends, family, co-workers, or even strangers. Of course, you’ll have to sell them at a lower price than their real retail value, but at least the cards won’t expire unused. That way, other people will be able to make use of the cards that would have otherwise gone to the trash bin.
- Swap Your Unwanted Gift Cards for Other Gift Cards – It can be very annoying to have a lot of gift cards for the retailers that you don’t like to shop at. If this is your problem, you may ask around your social circles to see if anyone has gift cards that could be swapped with yours. You might think that your unwanted gift cards are just a burden and a mess that you’d like to do away with, but to others, they might be useful and, in fact, desirable. On the other hand, they may have gift cards that you really like. So, to make both parties happy, just swap what you don’t want with gift cards that you do want. Then, use them.
- Check if Your Gift Cards Can Be Used Online – Some people may hesitate to use their gift cards because they don’t like visiting too many stores in malls. It could be because they dislike walking from store to store, or maybe they’re just more enthusiastic about shopping when it’s done online. If this sounds like you, visit retailer websites to check if the gift cards you have can be redeemed online. If this is possible, all you’ll have to pay for is the shipping fee and pretty soon you get to enjoy your purchases when they arrive.
- Check if Your Gift Cards Can Be Used at Sister Merchants – Some retailers may offer gift cards that can be redeemed at their sister establishments. This means the same company owns those two different retailers, so to make it easy for consumers, they simply accept gift cards sold by either retailer. There may be some terms for you to read through before you can do this, but this is one way you can have more variety when it comes to choosing which retailer to shop from, or which items to buy. If you haven’t tried a store’s sister merchant, using a gift card can also be a great opportunity to sample their products without having to pay actual money for it.
- Buy Gift Cards Just to Say “Thank You” – Many consumers have the misconception that there has to be a major occasion for a gift card to have meaning. Sometimes, a gift card can be given just to express gratitude. You can give a gift card to your older sister who helped you ace that college entrance exam. You can give another gift card to that cousin who lent you a guitar for your music lessons. Or you could give a gift card to the school janitor just for always making sure the school is clean and tidy. There are many reasons to say thank you, so a gift card is always a nice additional touch.
Gift cards are a wonderful way to stay in touch with people who are dear to us. If you have a gift card to give away, make sure the recipient knows why they’re getting it. It would be nice to have the right gift card from the right retailer on hand just when you need it. The great thing is that gift cards are now more convenient to purchase and give away, giving you another option for a gift in case a special occasion crops up, or you just want to say thank you to someone.