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Buying discounted gift cards is one of my favorite ways to save money and stay on budget. You can hack your way into saving hundreds of dollars a year by buying cheap gift cards.
Discounted gift cards are gift cards that are sold for less than whatever the value on the card is.
Most people have gift cards they’ll never use sitting around their house just collecting dust. I mean, we all have that grandparent who thinks we love Applebees or an out of state friend who assumes every city has a Publix, right?
This means billions of dollars worth of gift cards go unused every single year!
Their loss can be your gain. Instead of collecting dust, these people choose to sell their unwanted and unused gift cards for cash online.
They sell you their $50 Applebees card for $30. They get cash for a gift card that would go to waste otherwise and you get a gift card to your favorite restaurant at a great discount. It’s a win-win for everyone.
How to Use Discounted Gift Cards
Discounted gift cards can be used just like a regular gift card you purchase at the store.
Ways to use discounted gift cards:
- Birthday gifts
- Date nights
- Shopping at your favorite stores
- Baby shower gifts
- Wedding gifts
- Big-ticket items
How to Buy Discounted Gift Cards
The best place to buy discounted gift cards is online through a gift card deal site. These sites are 3rd party sites like Raise.com that connect the buyer and seller. You purchase the gift card through the gift card deal site and the buyer will send you the gift card.
Physical cards are mailed directly to you.
E-gift cards are emailed to you.
5 of the Best Sites to Purchase Cheap Gift Cards
You can buy discounted gift cards on a number of reselling sites but you run the risk of buying an empty card or getting scammed in some other way. When you go through reputable gift card resellers you may pay a little more but you’ll have the piece of mind that your card will work. And if for some reason it doesn’t, you’re protected.
Raise has a great selection of gift cards on their site. You can save an average of 12-15% on gift cards purchased through their site. You can even set up alerts to your favorite stores and restaurants. They will email you when a gift card you requested becomes available.
Raise offers a 1-year money-back guarantee to protect you from buying a gift card for less than the value stated at the time of the purchase.
Click here to get $5 when you make a purchase within 30 days of signing up. After you sign up, you can earn $5 for every friend you refer when they make a purchase within 30 days too. This is great savings hack to save even more money on gift cards.
While it doesn’t always have the biggest discounts, Cardpool does have the largest selection. I find cards here that I can’t always find on Raise. They have a wishlist feature that will email you when the card you want becomes available.
Cardpool also has a 100-day purchase guarantee if your gift card is less than the stated value at the time of purchase.
Giftcards.com is the most well-known gift card deal site and also has a huge selection. Be sure to navigate to the discount portion of its site because they mostly sell regular gift cards now (meaning at full face value without a discount).
Giftcards.com also has a rewards program known as G-Money Rewards. You can earn 8 points per dollar and redeem the points on future gift card purchases. Every 100 points are equivalent to $1 off your purchase. This is a great hack to save even more at your favorite restaurants and stores.
CardCash has the most sales and discount codes to use on its site. If you sign up for their email list you’ll get notified of deals every week. They also have a 45-day purchase guarantee if the gift card you purchase doesn’t add up to the value.
Gift Card Granny
Gift Card Granny is a website that allows you to buy gift cards for varying amounts. So some of the current value of the gift cards are less than face value.
Ex: $25 gift card with $19.29 left on the card.
They have a unique feature on their website that allows you to test the value of the gift card which limits the risks to you. Gift Card Granny offers you a referral credit of $5 for every friend who signs-up using your referral link.
Make Sure It’s Worth It
Using discounted gift cards isn’t for everyone. It’s a saving method that’s nice when you can use it but it shouldn’t be a primary part of your money saving strategy.
Before purchasing the gift card, make sure it’s worth your time and money. It may not be worth your time to get a gift card that’s only a 10% discount on a $20 card. You’re only saving $2.
Calculate the amount you’re saving before purchasing the gift card to make sure it’s a good deal for you.
Ex: You want to buy a laptop from Best Buy. You buy a $200 gift card from a gift card deal site. The savings is 25%. You will save $50 by purchasing the $200 gift card. So it’s worth the time and money to save $50.
You can expect to save an average of 10-35% on gift cards from these deal sites.
7 Ways to Maximize Your Savings
There are a 7 ways to maximize your savings without spending a ton of time. This isn’t a magic bullet for savings. I never spend more than 15 minutes a month looking for discounted gift cards, they’re just a nice “cherry on top” for savings.
You can still save a ton of money using discount gift cards as a savings hack to save even more money – especially on big-ticket items.
1. Look at the top discounts first
Always sort your view by the largest discount. This will help you not get distracted by the smaller discounts and save you a ton of time. After you figure out which gift cards you want to purchase, then plan out your date nights, grocery runs, etc. based on the best deals.
2. Look up coupons
See if they have any coupons you can stack to save even more money. Honey is a free Chrome browser extension that will figure out the applicable coupons for you. No more searching high and low to find a coupon that “might” work.
It automatically cycles through the coupons and figures out which one will save you the most money. Since it’s free, it’s definitely a no brainer!
3. Sign up for email alerts on gift cards
Most discount gift card sites have alerts set up for your account. You can go in and choose the parameters for your gift cards, like the dollar amount and store/restaurant names, and they will email you when a gift card with those parameters becomes available.
This can also save you a ton of time. For example, if you always grocery shop at Target, you can just have an alert set for Target. When you get the email, you can just go in and buy it without going in and searching for minutes on end for your gift card.
You just click the link in the email and it sends you right to the card you’re looking for.
4. Buy the gift cards through a cashback site called Rakuten
You can also get cashback from Rakuten so if you haven’t gotten your $10 bonus for spending $25, here’s your chance! Rakuten is simple and easy to use.
You just sign-up for your free account. When you’re ready to shop, you log into your Rakuten account and search for Raise (or the other gift card site you’re using), and click on the shop button.
Rakuten does the rest for you. They will calculate your rebate automatically and add it to your account. You will get paid when they do their next payout cycle. It doesn’t cost you any additional money and the best part, it’s totally free to use.
5. Stack the gift cards with in-store savings
Some stores have in-store coupons and customer loyalty programs. You can stack the savings from the in-store coupons, customer loyalty programs, in-store sales, and gift cards to really rack up on the savings.
You can use your Old Navy Cash and a gift card at the same time.
You can use your Target My Circle coupons with a Target gift card at the same time.
Use your phone number at Ulta (to get points), an in-store coupon, and a discounted gift card for maximum savings.
6. Search for your favorites on each website
All of the deal sites all have different cards at any given time and it doesn’t take long to search for your favorite stores/restaurants on the site. These are stores/restaurants you visit frequently and know you’ll visit to use the gift card.
7. Buy gift cards each month to save
You can buy gift cards each month to save for a big-ticket item. If you want to buy a $500 TV from Best Buy, you can buy a gift card every month to use towards the TV purchase.
This will also help you save a little bit of money too because you’re buying the gift cards for less than the value. You could buy a $100 gift card to Best Buy for 5 months and then pay with the gift card for your TV.
NOTE: Just make sure to verify the amount of your gift card as soon as you get it because you only have a window of time with each deal site to file a claim if for some reason the card doesn’t equal the value that the buyer stated in the description at the time of purchase.
What Not to Do When Buying Discounted Gift Cards
There are also a few things you shouldn’t do, or at least be aware of, before using discounted gift cards.
Make sure the store doesn’t have any exclusions on the maximum number of gift cards per single transaction
One time when I was purchasing airfare to Bali I bought ten $100 gift cards to save a little extra. I get to the website to buy my tickets and there’s a max of THREE slots for gift cards.
I was mortified.
I had to call the airline and thankfully I was able to use all the gift cards but I spent over an hour on the phone reading every 16 and 10 digit code for every card.
The moral of the story is, check gift card policies before you buy the gift cards. All the companies I mentioned offer guarantees on their cards for a period of time but it’s still your responsibility to check policies.
Don’t search discounted gift card sites on Google without doing your research
The gift card sites in this post are tried and trusted by me. I can’t speak for the other sites on Google. There are other sites I haven’t mentioned here that have tons of complaints against them from anything from customer service issues to not receiving their cards.
Don’t use these sites. Use the ones I’m telling you that I’ve tried. I have had great luck with them and will continue to use them month after month.
Buying cheap and discounted gift cards are a great money savings hack to save even more money each month. You can save hundreds over the course of a year using discounted gift cards.
Just buy the ones you know you’ll use. You won’t be saving any money if you buy a gift card that just sits around and collects dust.
If you want to save even more money, check out my free spending detox challenge. You can learn to save a ton of money and break bad money habits for good.
The spending challenge can also help you break the paycheck to paycheck cycle and gain control of your money. It’s a free 7-day money saving challenge. Go on and sign-up here.
Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.