Packaged Facts estimates that U.S. adults spent $28 billion on gift cards for others and another $11 billion on gift cards for themselves last year. Moreover, according to CEB TowerGroup, nearly $1 billion worth of these cards goes unused! Wow.
Since you likely scored a few gift cards in your holiday haul this year, we’ve put together some tips on how to make them truly count.
- Look for sales and coupons. While using a gift card may feel like you’re already getting a deal, you can likely stretch its value even further. In that regard, keep an eye on post-holiday sales and coupons. Many retailers offer sizeable end-of-season discounts to clear out the last of their holiday inventory. Pro tip: Double-check websites too, as many retailers will offer online-only deals.
- Sell or swap your cards. If you have a card that you just don’t think you’ll use, consider selling or swapping it. A variety of online exchange sites offer almost the full cash value of your cards. You can also trade your card for one that you find more useful. Acquiring cash or a preferred gift card will help you maximize your spending.
- Read the fine print. It may seem like a hassle, but taking the time to read the terms and conditions of your gift cards can save you from future disappointment. For instance, some cards can only be used online while others are only valid at participating locations of a chain. Checking the details of your gift cards will help you develop the most effective plan for spending.
- Regift or pay it forward. Does a friend or family member have a birthday, anniversary, wedding or baby shower coming up? Consider regifting your gift card for that special occasion. If you prefer to give something more “special,” use your card to buy something unique they can unwrap. Gift cards are also perfect for charitable purposes. Many nonprofits will gladly accept gift cards as donations, and they will certainly go to good use.
Put these tips into action and get the most out of your gift cards. To start 2017 on solid financial footing, keep visiting our Money Smarts blog for additional advice and resources.