This morning's post on the pros and cons of gift cards generated some great discussion. GRS readers seem fairly evenly divided on the topic. Some of you like gift cards, but many do not. My favorite parts of the conversation were the various gift card hacks people shared:
- Greg noted “You can frequently get 90-105% of the cash value of a gift card on eBay. For example: here and here.” I'll suggest this to my cousin — maybe he can get some cash for the lousy gift card Kris and I gave him a couple years ago.
- Alexandra writes: “It is better to buy a card directly from the issuer versus at the grocery store, because the issuer will have greater control over adding refunds directly to the card (if you or your recipient should need to do so). Shell accidentally charged me a $1 or $2 inactive fee, but since my card had been purchased at Safeway, they could not add the balance directly back onto the card. I would have to write to them for a refund (in the form of another gift card). At that point it just wasn't worth it!”
- Matthew pointed to places where you can buy, sell, and trade gift cards online. He's never used them, but found links for Gift Card Buy Back and Cardavenue. By e-mail, Carissa suggested a couple other places: Swap-a-Gift and Certificate Swap.
- Keith used to work at Best Buy during the holidays. He says that “customers who use a gift card in their transaction end up spending more (even after you take the gift card out of the equation) than customers who don't use a gift card.” Yet another reason stores love them.
- AHT feels that gift cards from big stores like Best Buy and Macy's are a cop-out. They show a lack of thoughtfulness. But a gift card (or gift certificate) tailored to her taste is nice: “Knitting is my main leisure activity, and I spent a lot of time and money on my hobby. Someone who isn't a knitter will have a hard time figuring out what to get, and I understand that — unless you're a knitter yourself, there's just no way a lot of the things I have lying around my house will make sense to you. So a gift cert. to a good yarn store tells me that you're both smart enough to recognize my hobby, and smart enough to recognize that I don't expect you to go nuts trying to figure out which yarn I might want.”
- Lindsey has an excellent suggestion: “I enjoy giving and getting gift cards to places like restaurants, museums, movies, etc. Those type of ‘experiences' don't fit well into our regular month-to-month budget. So when someone gives us a gift card to a restaurant or the movies, they're giving us the gift of that experience.”
- Similarly, SJ and Fecundity believe that gift cards to restaurants make great gifts.
Finally, Merd works for a company that makes gift cards. He offers some interesting information from behind the scenes.
This post is based on an idea suggested by several GRS readers: “We don't read the comments very often — you should give us round-ups of the best reader responses from certain articles!” Let me know if you'd like to see more of this sort of thing.
Author: J.D. Roth
In 2006, J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly to document his quest to get out of debt. Over time, he learned how to save and how to invest. Today, he's managed to reach early retirement! He wants to help you master your money — and your life. No scams. No gimmicks. Just smart money advice to help you reach your goals.