Did you receive gift cards this holiday season? Every year, millions of dollars in pre-paid gift cards go to waste, meaning they're never redeemed. Are you guilty of that? I've done it over the years! I even have a particular place I keep all gift cards so that they don't get lost, but then I don't remember to put them in my purse before heading out to that specific store.
Before you get too busy with the New Year, plan to try these 5 smart ways to use gift cards:
Set a Date on your Calendar
It can be as simple as that–set a date on your calendar for a dinner out, lunch with a friend, or a shopping trip at a specific store–and then plan to find coupon codes or printable coupons to use along with your gift card's value. The sooner you use the card, the less likely you are to misplace or forget it.
Know your State Laws
Check into the gift card laws for your state at State Gift Card Consumer Protection Laws. In California, for example, you can receive cash for any gift card with a balance under $10. In Maine, Massachusetts, and Montana, you can cash in cards under $5.00. You may just be able to get cash for your card.
Buy Other Gift Cards
Some stores (like Best Buy and Target) sell other gift cards in-store, so you can use that Best Buy/Target gift card to purchase something you're more likely to use. Again, do this sooner rather than later, then plan to use the new gift card right away.
Regift by Purchasing Gifts
If you're uncomfortable with the idea of directly regifting a gift card (I do it when I receive a coffee shop gift card since I don't drink coffee!), plan to use your gift card to purchase gifts for upcoming birthdays or future holidays. In a way, you're replacing the money set aside in your budget for that purpose, then you can take the cash for yourself.
Sell for Cash or an Amazon GC
If you're willing to lose some of the value, consider selling a gift card you truly won't use to a site like Cardpool or Gift Card Rescue. Depending on the popularity of the store, you can get up to 92% back in either cash (a Paypal payment) or an Amazon Gift Card. I've also seen some people trying to sell unwanted gift cards among friends on Facebook or in moms' groups.
Don't be one of the many who let gift cards go to waste. That's your money!
What are your tips for using up those gift cards?
original image from 401K