Gift cards: How you can beat big business and save money with these savvy tips

When you buy a gift card at a discount — it’s an Gift cardsautomatic price cut on everything you eventually buy with it. What’s better than a blanket discount? So how do you buy gift cards for less than face value? says ABC News’ BECKY WORLEY

Gift Card Clearinghouses

She suggests these sites for buying discounted gift cards: Cardcash (formerly Plastic Jungle), Gift Card Granny, and Rais. These sites act as a broker for cards you want to sell rather than use. E.g a $100 Wal-Mart card might be put up for sale on the site for $87.

She says: “I send the card in and here’s the genius of the third-party escrow system: Cardcash checks the balance on the card to confirm it is loaded and active, then they list it for sale. A buyer purchases it, Cardcash mails the card to the buyer, and guarantees the value of the card for 30 to 90 days depending, on the site. Some of these cards are printable e-cards and some only work online. Read the fine print. I purchased seven gift cards and gift codes from these sites and one of them didn’t work when I tried to use it. I contacted the gift card reseller, they verified the card was fraudulent and are refunding me the cost. Buy from a reseller that has a money-back guarantee and check/use the cards immediately.’

Buy During Thanksgiving Week

Most big retailers discount their cards this week. Buy cards at 10% discount and you can save all year. And many use gift cards as an incentive. For instance, Best Buy is offering the iPhone 6 at full price but they are bundling it with a $200 Best Buy Gift card this week. E-Bay runs special deals through its gift card button on its sit. Click it and you get a  a verified card. For example, this year their sale starts on Black Friday (Nov 27th) with these four deals: Sephora — $100 with $10 bonus, Toys R Us — $100 for $85, Lowes — $200 for $175, and Lord & Taylor — $50 for $40.

Stack Your Discounts

The real power of discounted gift cards comes when you stack them during sale times. Take a card that you bought for 15 percent off, use it to buy a sweater that’s marked down 30 percent and then add a blanket coupon you have for 20 percent off — that’s 65 percent off, an $80 sweater is now $28.

Word of Warning

A study by Cardhub estimates that since 2008, $44 billion stored on gift cards was never spent. It’s a great transfer of wealth to corporations so if you’re in the business of corporate philanthropy, don’t use your cards. But if you’re all about sharing your wealth with your friends and family, remember only buy gift cards if you have immediate plans for them.

2060965152The squirrel says: Use a key ring and a hole punch to keep all your gift cards together so you actually have them with you when you want to use them.

Ask everyone in your family to do an inventory of the cards they have, if they aren’t planning to use them in the next two months — why not sell them at one of the card retailers? Or have a swap party in time for present-giving and stocking-filling time!