Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I Hope You Get Gift Cards for Christmas (or How to Save $ From Someone Else's Disappointment)

Jimmy opens up his Christmas card form Grandma. He smiles in that grateful but disappointed way and says thank you, holding up his $50 gift card for Applebee's. What's wrong with Applebee's? Let's say Jimmy is a vegetarian and a foodie, and wouldn't be caught dead in an Applebee's. He goes home, goes online and sells the gift card for $35 and gets money instantly in his paypal account. He uses that to buy a years worth of Tahini for his homemade hummus and considers himself content.

Enter the world of re-selling gift cards. Is your mind blown? Mine was!

Having been the receiver of gift cards in the past to places we never go to, I can see how there is a market for it. Case in point: Baskin Robbins gift card? What the heck is a Baskin Robbins?! (Can I order bird seed from there?) However, I was shocked that it turns out some people are so eager for the cash instead that they will sell their gift cards for 5-20% off from a lot of major retailers. In a quick check of one gift card buying/selling site- (I spent the most time on you could pick up a $300 TJ Maxx gif card for $250. Check it out:

A Robin Basking...
If you can find gift cards that are places you already spend at regularly through out the year you could save quite a bit of money this way. In demand gift cards for places like grocery stores, or Menards are harder to come by, but as a big Home Depot spender I'm keeping my eye on their gift cards. They are currently selling for 8%, less than cash value. Hoping it will hit 10-15% after the holidays.

Most major restaurant chains, clothing lines, etc. are also featured on these sites. Shop Express or Banana Republic? Gift cards for these places offer a nice chunk of discount. Target and Kohl's also seem to fluctuate between 5-10%. Not huge savings compared to other stores, but if you know that you typically spend about $500 in purchases at Target throughout the year (another reason it's good to track your spending!), why not buy $500 in gift cards in January at a discount and relish how smart you are throughout the year whenever you use it? You look pretty smart to me...

                                                         Why Now?

Turns out that there is a best time of year to buy almost anything. January is the top month to buy gift cards according to most economy trackers, and it's really no surprise. It may be folks selling their holiday gift cards, or returning gifts without a receipt and receiving 'in-store' credit in the form of a gift card. Either way, January is the perfect time to shop around for gift cards. Check out the graph, courtesy of Life Hacker.

On the flip, if you get gift cards for Christmas, you can also sell them on site like, but be prepared to take a hit. People shop these sites looking for deals so likely will only bite if the deal is sweet enough. Be prepared to take a loss. So here's hoping that a lot of people get gift cards this Christmas- as I'll be expectantly waiting for them to turn up on gift card selling sites!

Oh, and if you were considering getting a few gift cards for those last few nieces and nephews on your list...maybe just get them cash instead.

           Are you giving gift cards this year? Would you ever sell your gift cards online?

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