Another holiday season has passed and isn’t it ironic that many us walked away with a little loot and lot of gift cards. I guess if you don’t know what to get anymore, you’d rather show your appreciation by a gift card than give a gift that you know will send your friends or relatives reeling by standing in the return lines at the department store. My sense is that most of you got a gift card for one out of every three gifts this year. It could be as much as half of your gifts if your family really didn’t want to make a mistake. The big question now, is what do you do with these gift cards to maximize their value? Here are five tips from Your Smart Money Moves.
1) Read The Back Of The Card – Some of the gift cards you got this holiday season have an expiration date and some do not. Cards that carry an expiration date can start to lose their value on a monthly basis if you don’t use them in a certain period of time. Stores have to carry these balances on their books, so they don’t like it if you just keep the money in your drawers at home.
2) Sell Your Gift Card – Don’t let the relatives know about this if you implement this strategy. Sometimes you get a gift card to a place that you don’t really want to use. Outside of doing a re-gift for someone in the New Year, there are websites like www.plasticjungle.com and www.giftcardrescue.com that will pay somewhere between 80% to 92% of the value of the cards that they will in turn resell to someone else.Since these sites have a relationship with www.amazon.com, you can get some extra value by trading out for an Amazon gift card. You can also check out this gift card exchange website.
3) Redeem during deal time – I’m actually of the opinion that you don’t want to run out in January to use your gift card. Retailers will try to draw you in with all sorts of good deals that many money sites will tell you make sense, but you should try to time using these cards when your particular store is doing a 50% off or some sort of promotional offer. It really depends on the store that you have gift card from as to when you maximize your redemption value.
4) Trade It – You may have friends, family, or colleagues that have gift cards from places that you really like and vice versa. This can be especially true if you are trying to stack your cards all at the same merchant. It can be very hard to maximize the value of your cards if you have many $50 cards at different places.
5) Invest Your Gift Card – www.goalmine.com is a start up investment website where you could open a mutual-fund account for a minimum of $25 compared with most mutual funds that ask for a much higher initial minimum investment. Through the month of January, you can trade the value of your card as price determined by Plastic Jungle to a new GoalMine account. Of course, most of you will probably just spend it.
Gift cards don’t always seem personalized, but I guess it is better than getting a lump of coal. Since every super market and drug store offers 25 to 50 different gift cards in today’s day and age, expect more of getting gift cards in the future. To be a smart money shopper, you need to maximize the value of these gifts.
Visit to www.oxygenfinancial.net to request a free consultation with the leading financial experts for people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s in the country.
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc
Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice and Smart Money Moves to the X and Y Generation.
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