What do you think of when you hear the word gift card? Birthday parties? Company gifts? Teacher Appreciation Day?
For me, I think of opening Christmas cards from my out-of-town relatives. And by opening, I mean, ripping into them anxiously, eager to find out what gift card brand I received this year. I couldn’t tell you what was written in the card, but I know just how many VISA gift cards I got as a child.
I bet what you don’t think of when you hear the word gift card is saving money.
That’s why it’s our best kept secret.
Today, I’m sharing with you our top 8 ways to save more with gift cards. It’s so easy, even a caveman could do it.
Buy gift cards at a lower price
I once found a $50 bill on the ground and it was one of the greatest moments of my life.
Now you can feel that every day with gift cards deals.
You can buy gift cards at a lower price than their face value (e.g. a $250 gift card you buy for $200). They work well because they guarantee a sale for the brand you’re buying the gift card from, while giving you a great deal. Gift card resellers have deals with brands to buy gift cards at a discount—a discount they can pass onto you.
Brands win by getting easy money. You win by getting free money.
Say, where can you get these magic, money-saving gift cards in Canada? Well, I know of a great little app called Moola that gives you access to hundreds of budget gift cards for purchase in the palm of your hand.
Get bonuses on gift cards
Bonus gift cards are like savings gift card’s fraternal twin. Instead of getting a $250 gift card for $200, you buy a $200 gift card and get a bonus $50. The outcome is the same, the way you get there is a little different.
Oftentimes, retailers will offer bonuses around the holidays to incentivize buying gift cards as gifts. There’s no reason why you can’t buy those gift cards for yourself however and cash in on some great savings. That way, you can turn your $25 restaurant gift card in to a $50 restaurant gift card without spending any extra money.
Use gift cards to budget
Gift cards are basically the 2020 version of envelope budgeting, but with a fraction of the hassle. Never heard of envelope budgeting? Here’s a quick video to show you how it’s done:
Perfect for people who need visual reminders of how much they’re spending. Not great for people who don’t want to carry around insane amounts of cash.
Budget better by turning your cash envelopes into gift card envelopes. Better yet, take those envelopes and digitize them with Moola. Here’s how it works:
- Plan how much you want to spend each month in each category: Every budget begins with a plan. Think about your monthly expenses and plan out how much you want to spend and save each month. Maybe $400 for groceries, $200 for eating out, $200 for clothes, $150 for gas, etc. If you have no idea, just track your spending for a few weeks to get a sense of what a reasonable number is for you.
- Buy gift cards for that value in each category: Once you know how much you want to spend, buy a gift card in Moola for that amount. You can buy $200 to Superstore, $200 to The Ultimate Dining Card, $200 to American Eagle, etc. Buying through Moola also gives you bonus money, meaning your $200 to American Eagle is actually $230, helping you get more with the money you already have. Not a bad feature in my book.
- Track your spending in Moola using the check my balance feature: Now you know exactly how much you have left to spend in each category. As the month goes on, you can stay on top of your funds by seeing how much you’re spending with every transaction. When it hits $0, you’re done.
Budgeting with Moola helps you track your spending with visual reminders of how much money you have left in each category. You can even mix and match within a category so you have a pick of a family restaurant and something for date night! The best part? You don’t have to worry about losing envelopes or getting them stolen.
Buy eGift cards
Electronic gift cards, or eGift cards, are gift cards purchased online. They’re usually either emailed to you to print out at home or show at the till, or they’re sent directly to your phone.
Electronic gift cards can save you a bit of money, both directly and indirectly.
Indirectly by saving you the time and resources that are required to drive to the store. Directly by being sold with bonuses and deals attached to them.
Yes, you heard that right, deals and bonuses on gift cards you don’t even have to go to the store to buy. Now there’s an idea.
Moola is a great way to buy, and store, egift cards. Actually, all the gift cards you buy through Moola are egift cards, and many of them come with a few extra bonus bucks. Check out our sweet deals before it’s too late.
Sell gift cards you don’t want
That acquaintance in your life got you a gift card to a store you’ve never been to. Thoughtful, yes. Practical, not really.
Unused gift card money is wasted money. Turn that gift card into cash by selling it online. There are a ton of sites where you can sell your gift cards or exchange them for ones that may be more valuable to you.
With most sites, you’ll need to mail in your gift card before receiving cash for it. I know, that can be a lot. You also won’t get the full value of the card when you sell it. Despite this, I think I would rather have $30 cash than $40 to a department store I’m not particularly fond of.
As long as you’re okay with buying stamps and waiting a couple weeks for a check, it’s a pretty good option for getting some extra pocket money. Just be sure you’re using a trusted site in order to avoid potentially getting scammed.
Buy gift cards on Facebook
This option comes with some obvious risks but hear me out. Facebook marketplace has become the new Craigslist, with hundreds of local postings being added every single day.
It’s more secure than other online options because you can see the identity of the seller and their ratings. Someone with lots of five-star ratings on the marketplace is probably pretty reliable, but of course you can never be too sure.
The obvious problem with buying second-hand gift cards on social media is that you have no idea how much is on the gift card. It could have $100 or $10, there really is no way to be sure. Here are some extra measures you can take to protect yourself:
- Meet the seller in person: This one goes without saying. If you’re buying a gift card from someone, please meet them in person. Do not trust that they will they mail it to you or send it to you on email or whatever. Just…go meet them.
- Check the balance in the store: Better yet, meet the seller at the store you’re buying the gift card to. That way, you can check the balance of the card together at the till and make sure it’s legit. This adds an extra layer of protection and makes you feel a bit better about your purchase.
- Collect personal information on the seller: I’m not saying you need to know everything about them, but it’s a good idea to know something. When I buy concert tickets on Craigslist, I would always ask to take a picture of the seller’s government issued ID. If they’re comfortable with giving away that much information, they’re probably okay.
- Buy an unscratched card: Some gift cards like iTunes need to be scratched before they’re used. If the card has a barcode that needs to be scratched, try and buy it unscratched. That way you can be absolutely 100% sure that it has never been used. Also be sure that the CVV or security code hasn’t been scratched as well.
- Avoid buying eGift cards second hand: Plastic gift cards pose some problems but eGift cards? Forget about it. Buying an eGift card from a stranger on Facebook is probably the least secure thing you can possibly do. The code could have been used already, the certificate could be fake, you may never receive it…there’s a million things that can go wrong. So if you value your money just…don’t do it.
There are quite a few risks involved with buying a gift card on social media. The reward? You’re almost always guaranteed to get it lower than face value. I once bought a $250 Aritzia gift card for $150. You really can’t beat that kind of savings.
Buy gift cards from third-party retailers
I can’t even remember the last time I bought a gift card directly from the retailer the gift card was for. Third-party retailers just make more sense and there’s 2 good reasons why:
- They’re (usually) cheaper: Next time you’re at Costco, check out their budget gift card mall. All their gift cards are less than face value and offer incredible savings. Better yet, download Moola and get budget gift cards right on your phone. $115 gift card for $100 anyone?
- They’re easier to get: No one wants to go out of their way to get a gift card. Third-party retailers let you get your gift cards either online, on your phone, or in a place you’re already shopping. It’s a lot easier to get an American Eagle gift card on your phone than it is to drive to the mall and buy one.
It’s no wonder why third-party retailers are one of the leading drivers of the global gift card market. Coincidentally enough, Moola is a third-party retailer. Check out our deals now and stay super trendy.
Stay up to date on gift card scams
Save gift card money by avoiding gift card scams. It sounds simple…but it’s true. There are tons of gift card scams out there and being informed will help you avoid them.
Gift cards that are available to purchase at gift card malls, or the ones that hang on the racks at the grocery store, are most vulnerable. Thieves can take pictures of the barcodes and drain the funds as soon as the card is activated. By the time you go to spend your card, the balance is already $0.
You can avoid this by buying gift cards online from trusted sites (like Moola!) or by buying directly from retailers, where cards are kept secure.
Another common gift card fraud is extortion. Criminals pretend to be someone you know, like your boss or family member, and ask you to buy a large amount of gift cards which they will reimburse you for.
By the time you’re getting duped, it’s usually too late.
Do your best to stay informed to avoid losing big bucks in gift card scams.
Gift card or money saving machine?
With a bit of research and planning ahead, you can save a ton of money by using gift cards in lieu of credit or cash. I like to buy all my restaurant gift cards on Moola so I can order an appetizer without any guilt.
There’s nothing more exciting than finding money on the ground.
Find money on the virtual ground with Moola.