How To Maximize Your Holiday Gift Cards

Ho! Ho! Ho!  It appears that you’ll need Santa’s sleigh to get around town to return the clothes you didn’t like and the mountain of gift cards you received to all of the stores around town.  Place your bets! Place your bets! My bet is that one of every three gifts you garnered this holiday season was a gift card.   Now, you have to make a game plan over the next few days into the first January weekend to figure out how you’ll actually spend these gift cards.   The big question you should be pondering is whether or not there are any smart money moves you can make to maximize those holiday swipeables.   Here are five tips from your smart money moves to improve the holiday take:

  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.   The CARD Act of 2009 took care of many of these issues, but they don’t include bonus/incentive cards or cards that carry a bank logo.   Double-check all of these.
  2. Sell Your Gift Cards Don’t let the relatives know if you decide to implement this strategy.    Sometimes you get a gift card to a place that you don’t really want to use.  My favorite of all the budding gift card websites is   There are hundreds of retailers on this website, and most will pay you 75% to 85% of the card value in cold hard cash.  Outside of doing a regift for someone in the New Year, there are  other websites like and which also have pretty high resale values.    Since these sites have a relationship with, you can get some extra value by trading out for an Amazon gift card.
  3. Don’t Redeem Until Deal Time Although you may be all excited to use your gift card to Nordstrom’s or Anthropologie, it might just pay to have some patience when you make your purchases.   Take your time and pay attention to when the store has deals or sales.   Specifically, I would check the ‘clearance’ section of the company website first.  You can often find some cool items at 30% to 70% off retail price.  You might want to also wait for something like Nordstrom’s men’s half yearly sale.
  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.   I know this can be an awkward conversation, but you might even be able to do it with family members.
  5. Regift ItRegifting is a tricky sport as I have discussed in other blog posts.  However, if you are strategic about how and where you utilize this method, you can transfer unwanted gift cards into the hands of someone who will treasure the gift card.   Typically the $25 to $50 gift card limits are the ones that will make sense for this strategy.

Gift cards don’t always seem personalized, but I guess it is better than getting a lump of coal.  This year, my mom wanted something from Swavorski and I had no clue on what to buy since my eyesight was blinded when I walked into the store.  So I settled for a gift card instead and the both of us will be happy.    Since every corner drug store offers 50 to 100 different types of gift cards in today’s day and age, expect to get more of these in the future, including el-versions.   Use these five smart money moves to make the most of your gift card money.

Written by:
Ted Jenkin

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About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

Read More About Ted Here

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation. 

Background and qualification information is available at FINRA's BrokerCheck website.


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