Every year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve I save some cash by purchasing discounted gift cards.
Gift cards are just another form of money, and there’s nothing like a chance to buy money on sale.
Gift cards can, of course, be gifts. In that case, buying them at a discount allows you to spend less, or to spend the same while giving more.
For example, instead of giving your newspaper delivery person $20, you could take advantage of a promotion Publix regularly offers where customers can buy a $25 gas station card for $20. You spend the same, and the recipient gets a more generous holiday gift.
Of course — and here’s a key point — you can use “gift” cards for your own needs. Buying those discounted gas cards is a way to save yourself money at the pump.
Restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores and other retailers sometimes offer discounted gift cards, particularly between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It might be a gift card for that business, or it might be gift cards they sell for other businesses.
A hair salon my wife patronizes was selling gift cards at 20 percent off during Thanksgiving weekend. Did I jump at the chance to save 20 percent on her hair care? You bet I did.
Some local examples include Mr. K’s (books, music) offering an extra $5 with a $25 gift card purchase, and Guinot (skin care, salon) offering 10 percent off gift cards of $100 or more. CVS regularly offers gift card promotions, like buying a $50 card for a retailer such as Bed Bath & Beyond and getting $10 in CVS “extra bucks” in addition (that was last week’s offer, new ones begin on Sundays).
To save money on your own purchases, the challenge is to only buy gift cards for goods and services that you already intended to purchase.
Here’s an example of mine from last year that illustrates some pros and cons:
In December 2019 the Hyatt hotel chain was offering a 10 percent discount on Hyatt gift cards. I had upcoming travel plans so I bought a gift card large enough to cover the hotel cost.
The bad news was, the pandemic arrived and my travel plans were canceled. So I saved money on future Hyatt stays — gift cards don’t expire — but I had expected to use that gift card within months for an anticipated expense.
TIP: If you find yourself with a gift card you don’t want or need, you can sell it online at sites including Cardpool, GiftCardGranny, Raise, CardCash, and others. You won’t get face value, but could get up to 90 percent.
You can also buy discounted gift cards year-round on those websites. CardCash, for example, was selling $40 Subway gift cards for $35 this week, and $50 Domino’s cards for $45.
One thing to watch out for are restaurant and retail offers that aren’t quite discounted gift cards. You can still get more value for your money, but with expiration dates.
For example, you can buy a $50 Outback Steakhouse/Carrabba’s/Bonefish Grill gift card and get an extra $10 “coupon” card. The $50 gift card doesn’t expire but the $10 bonus can only be used from Jan. 1 to Feb. 1. It’s still getting $60 for $50, but with more rules and restrictions.
Reach David Slade at 843-937-5552. Follow him on Twitter @DSladeNews.