While it would be nice to gift our friends and family personalized presents that fit their personalities like horoscopes, sometimes, it’s easiest to just go with a gift card. This is especially true for those we don’t know as well—you can’t go wrong with a Starbucks gift card for the office Secret Santa!
Can we let you in on a secret? You can actually save money on gift cards this year—whether it means buying them at a discount, or waiting until the purchase rewards you with some holiday cash, too.
Note: If you want a physical gift card, your best bet is to visit the store or restaurant in person; if you shop through the online retailers, you’re better off purchasing an e-gift card to avoid shipping fees.
1. Bookmark these discount sites
Yes, there are sites dedicated to buying gift cards at a discount, and here are some of our favorites: Cardpool, Card Kangaroo, Raise, and Card Cookie let you buy discounted cards securely and you can sell your unwanted gift cards after the season is over (it’s like regifting—for a profit!). Discounts range from 5 percent off the card value to more than 20 percent off, and you can find many different denominations based on how big your gifting budget is! Card Cash is a similar service, but from my browsing, the inventory isn’t as robust.
2. Check restaurants for rewards
Many of your favorite restaurants, like The Cheesecake Factory and Seasons 52, will offer rewards for gift card purchases through the holidays. Some retailers will offer promotions too, like DSW—which, at time of writing is offering up to an additional $30 in bonus cards when you purchase $150 in gift cards.
This structure is pretty standard for these types of deals—most of the coupons or “bonus cards” will be redeemable after Christmas, which just means you can treat yourself long after the holidays are over!
3. Stalk the Amazon daily deal
If you’re an Amazon pro, you may already know this trick, but Amazon’s Daily Deal occasionally includes gift cards. Once you’re in the Daily Deal section, refine the department to “gift cards,” and see if any good ones pop up! If you get lucky, you may score a Starbucks card for 15 percent off!
4. Get into a bidding war on eBay
Okay, you don’t have to bid intensely on gift cards—eBay also lists them at minor discounts like many other retailers—but if you have the time and the energy, you might want to check out the gift cards sold by users. Keep an eye on certificates that people listed, and watch the prices drop as the seller gets more and more anxious to get rid of their item. Patience always comes in handy.
5. Shop on Groupon
Normally, we turn to Groupon for experiences, including discounted gym classes, spa treatments, and more. But if you keep an eye on their gift certificate deals, you can find some smart deals at major retailers like Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Target, that are offering rewards for money spent! These discounts are special because they don’t require you to buy gift cards in order to be rewarded. When I was shopping, I saw a deal for a $40 Target gift card if you spent $200 on nursery furniture, plus an extra 3 percent back in Groupon Bucks!