Money Matters

7 Ways to Save on Gifts Cards for the Holidays

There’s a disconnect between shoppers and gift recipients this holiday season. According to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend less on gift cards this year compared to last year. However, gift cards top holiday wish lists for the ninth year in a row, making them the most popular present for U.S. adults.

What gives? The survey suggests shoppers are finding gifts earlier and for better prices this year, making the gift card less necessary. However, gift cards are the procrastinator’s go-to gift and there’s still plenty of time to fulfill wish lists. To help cut the cost of this season’s hottest present, consider these tips.

  1. Buy in bulk from warehouse stores.

Warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club sell bulk gift cards to retailers and restaurants at discounts of up to 30% off. This is a great way to save money and knock several people off your gift list. For example, Costco offers a four-pack of $25 e-gift cards to Coldstone Creamery for $69.99, or four $25 gift cards to (redeemable at AMC, Regal Cinemas and Carmike Cinemas) for $79.99.

  1. Buy discount gift cards and e-gift card codes.

Consumers who are not warehouse club members can find discounts on gift cards and e-gift cards through You can save anywhere from 5% to over 25% on cards to retailers, restaurants, entertainment venues like movie theaters, and even travel companies like airlines and gas stations. Check the return policy of the reseller you work with to ensure you can get your money back if the card balance isn’t as advertised when you receive it.

  1. Look for free gift cards with purchase.

Black Friday weekend featured several doorbusters that included a free gift card with purchase. If you scored a doorbuster and gift card, consider re-gifting the card to reduce your holiday expenses. Read the fine print first since some of these promotional gift cards are more like coupons, featuring restrictions and expiry dates. Gift card offers are still available on select products from Target, Walmart, Best Buy and even Starbucks, so click on the “Free Gifts” filter on store pages at to find out which products will get you a free gift card.

  1. Trade in gadgets for gift cards.

Trade-in programs from Walmart, Target and Best Buy offer gift cards in exchange for old gadgets. If you have any used smartphones, tablets, video games, consoles and the like collecting dust, now is a great time to exchange them for store gift cards which you can offer as a gift to someone on your list.

  1. Redeem credit card rewards for gift cards.

All those credit card rewards you’ve accrued this year can be redeemed for gift cards. Some banks even offer discounts on select cards, so peruse that list before you redeem to get more money from your rewards. If you have 20,000 points accrued, you can get eight $25 gift cards which will likely reduce your gift list significantly without any extra cost to you!

  1. Check daily deal sites for half-off certificates.

Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are basically providers of discount gift certificates. Since presenting a printed voucher on Christmas morning may feel underwhelming, pair the voucher with a related product. For example, if you purchase a daily deal for a manicure, present it with a luxurious bottle of hand cream or a pair of fingerless gloves. A voucher for a restaurant can be accompanied by a bag of gourmet popcorn or other tasty edible.

  1. Purchase gift cards with gift cards.

Not all stores allow this, but grocers like Kroger and Safeway typically allow you to purchase gift cards with one of their store gift cards. That means if you received a gift card to Safeway, you could use it to pay for a gift card to Home Depot, AMC Theaters, iTunes or any other gift card sold at the kiosks within the store. Rules on this strategy vary by state and even by store, so it’s best to chat with customer service before you try.

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