If your gift cards haven’t already burned a hole in your pocket, you may be wondering what to do with them after the holidays.
Maybe you got a gift card you didn’t like. Maybe you got one for a store that’s not near you. Maybe you got a gift card from a store that is now going out of business. Or maybe you’re so frugal you don’t know how to spend it.
Here are a few ideas for spending those gift cards:
1) Know the terms of your gift card. Make sure there are no fees (in some states these types of fees are illegal) or expiration dates.
2) Check to see where you can redeem the card. Some gift cards can be used at multiple stores; others only at a few locations. Find the store nearest you, and if that is still pretty far away, check to see if you can shop with the gift card online.
3) If you don’t want the gift card, swap it with a friend, sell it on Raise, or re-gift it (just make sure it won’t expire before the recipient goes to use it). If you don’t want to re-gift the actual card, you can use it to buy gifts for others. Some stores even offer to trade-in your unwanted gift cards for store-credit. It’s a good idea to get rid of the card if you’ll have to spend additional cash out of pocket to use it or if you know you won’t use it.
4) Take advantage of sales and cash back to stretch your gift card. You can make that gift card go so much further if you shop the sales, and after the holidays you’ll find some great end-of-season deals. Shop through a cash back site like Ebates to find more coupons and make money on your purchase.
5) Spend your gift cards on something practical. If you really want to get the most bang for your buck, then shop for things you know you need or will use again and again. Buy classic items of clothing for your wardrobe that are easy to mix and match. Purchase kitchen gadgets or tools that will help you do more yourself. Using your gift card to purchase something that will make your life more enjoyable or easier on a regular basis is a great way to honor the person who gave you the gift. (You can check our list of recommended products).
Some folks think gift cards are terrible gifts. I disagree. With a little thought, they can be a great way to help thrifty folks stretch their budgets.
Do you like receiving gift cards? How will you be spending gift cards this year?
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