There are so many fun ways to use gift cards to make money. Once you read this article, it will open your eyes to an entirely new realm!
*Here are the best gift card choices for 2016
The first step is figuring out where and how to buy gift cards for cheap at discounted rates. Then, I’ll discuss how you can maximize the potential of these discounted gift cards to make and save money. Get ready, this is going to be fun!
*Tip* Retail branded gift cards don’t have purchase fees, but Visa, MasterCard, and American Express Gift Cards all do (~$3.95-$5.95).
Normal Stuff: Buying Discounted Gift Cards In-Store
There are a limited number of ways to save on gift cards in physical brick-and-mortar stores, so I’ll go ahead and list them here. *These options aren’t that fun, but keep reading for the good stuff further on down.
Warehouse clubs (i.e. Costco and Sam’s). Both Costco and Sam’s routinely offers restaurant gift cards and other retailers up to 20% off. The selection of discounted gift cards will be lower than buying online, plus you’ll have to be a member of the club.
Gift Card Promotions. Year round, but more so during the holidays, restaurants very often will promote their gift cards by offering bonuses (like buy a $25 gift card, and they’ll bonus you $5). If you’re looking specifically for a restaurant gift card, go to their website first to see if there’s a promotion going on.
Other retailers will also have similar promotions for spending a minimum amount at their stores, but usually this is only offered during the holidays.
The Fun: Buying Gift Cards Online For Cheap
Going online to purchase gift cards will give you a great deal more options to save money.
Gift Card Exchange Sites (My Favorite). These sites specialize in buying and selling used/unwanted gift cards at discounted rates. Selection and discounts can vary, but I’ll compare their Target gift card pricing for reference.
- Raise-Great layout and very good selection. Target gift cards up to 3.6% discounted. Get $5 off orders of $75 or more with this link & promo code RAISE75AF. My savings write-up on Raise.com.
- CardPool-Big selection. Target gift cards up to 3% discounted. I also like that you can get $5 by referring each friend.
- Gift Card Granny-Gift Card Granny is a Gift Card search site, listing all the gift cards available from other gift card exchange sites. Helps with your search, but I don’t use it because I kept running into real-time availability issues.
- Others: CardHub, Monster Gift Card, GiftCardBin, Gift Card Monkey, GiftCards.com, GiftCard Zen, ABC Gift Cards.
Ebay (My Second Favorite). You can save big on Ebay because of the auctioning system. Being patient and bidding will potentially give you the biggest savings. “Buy It Now” listings will still give you good discounts, and save you the time of bidding. Check out all the gift cards available on Ebay.
Credit Card Rewards Programs. Rewards and Cash Back credit cards from the major banks all have partnerships with major retailers. When redeeming your rewards, you can get extra value for your gift cards, oftentimes 10% to 25% more than what your card rewards are worth. For example, you can get a $50 Game Stop gift card for $45 of earned cash back with your Discover card.
Using Your Credit Card’s Rewards Categories. For example, credit cards that offer extra rewards at standalone supermarkets. You can buy a variety of gift cards at the supermarket and earn credit card rewards at the same time, which can be anywhere from 2% to 6% depending on your card.
Saving Even More With Your Discounted Gift Cards!
Here’s where the real fun begins! You know how to save money on gift cards, so now what?
Well, the next thing to figure out is how you can maximize savings by buying gift cards with your discounted gift cards!
One of the best ways to save more money is by buying physical gift cards off a gift card exchange site at a discount, and then going to THAT gift card’s store brand to buy A DIFFERENT gift card! For example, you can buy a GameStop gift card discounted online, and then go to Game Stop to buy Amazon gift cards. You do this because you normally may not have any use for a Game Stop gift card, but you found a good deal on them online. It’s an amazing way to save some money with a few steps.
My favorite thing to do is to buy discounted gift cards off a gift card exchange site, and then go to that retailer’s physical store, to buy Visa, American Express, or Amazon gift cards. That way, I can spend on anything I want after saving money on that gift card!
Worse case scenario is you buy a discounted gift card online, and you’re unable to convert that retailer-specific gift card into a Visa, Amex, or Amazon one. Luckily you can always opt to sell it back online at the gift card exchange site, but you’ll lose some money. To help you out, I’ve gathered a list of retailers where people have reported success in upgrading their gift cards into a Visa, American Express, Amazon, or other preferred gift card.
Stores That Let You Buy Gift Cards With Gift Cards
That’s right, use that store’s gift card to buy another retailer’s gift card. While many merchants won’t allow this, success has been confirmed with some below.
*Bear in mind, the reported success with buying alternative gift cards with gift cards in-store is many times based on personal reports. It can depend on a particular store’s policy and whether or not you happen to run into a cashier that knows the policy or not. Regardless, it’s not like you’re trying to scam anyone. The worse that can happen is they say “no”. Many times you may find success by going to a different cashier, or on a different day!
- Barnes and Noble-Reports say it depends all on the cashier doing the transaction, but your B&N gift card should swipe successfully to buy a different gift card.
- Best Buy-Use your Best Buy gift card to purchase other gift cards they sell in-store, like Amazon Kindle gift cards that work basically the same as regular Amazon Gift Cards.
- Bed, Bath & Beyond-Some have even reported being able to buy Visa gift cards in store with their BBB gift card!
- Game Stop: Works with Shell, Amazon, Starbucks, iTunes, Android, and other good gift cards.
- Giant Eagle-Works for Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Sears, Macy’s, Office Max, Shell, Staples, and many other gift cards.
- Kmart-Sears, Lands’ End, and Kmart are all owned by the same parent company, so all these gift cards can be used interchangeably. You can’t buy American Express gift cards with these, but it should go through for Visa and MasterCard gift cards. Kmart sells a variety of retailer gift cards, restaurant gifts cards, Ebay gift cards, and even Southwest Airlines gift cards.
- Kroger-Tons of options to buy with your Kroger gift card including Aeropostale, Amazon, Applebee’s, Banana Republic/Gap/Old Navy, Barnes & Noble, Bass Pro Shops, Bath and Body works, Bebe, Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, Blockbuster, Build a Bear, Cabela’s, Claire’s, eBay, ESPN.com, Foot Locker, GameStop, Golfsmith, Home Depot, iTunes, JC Penney, Jiffy Lube, Joann, Kohl’s, Land’s End/Sears/Kmart, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Marriott, Marshall’s/TJMaxx/Homegoods, Michael’s, Nordstrom, OfficeMax, Overstock, REI, Restaurants (Applebees, Carraba’s, Chili’s, IHOP, McDonalds, Olive Garden, Outback, Panera Bread, PF Chang’s, Pizza Hut, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, Subway, TGI Friday’s), Shell, Staples, Southwest Airlines, Staples, Target, Toys “R” Us.
- OfficeMax-Use your OfficeMax gift cards to buy Amazon and Visa gift cards. Mixed reports on success here.
- Publix-Ton of choices, even gas and Amex gift cards.
- Safeway-Good reports of success buying third party gift cards here.
- Sears-Sears has a decent amount of other gift cards you can purchase with a Sears gift card, including Applebees, Macaroni Grill, Outback, Amex, Chili’s, IHop, TGI Fridays, Subway, Ruby Tuesday, Barnes & Noble, Bass Pro Shop, Cracker Barrel, Pizza Hut, Ebay, and more. Technically, you’re not supposed to be able to buy other gift cards with a Sears gift card, but find a cashier willing to run your Sears gift card and chances are it will go through!
- Target-Choices include Amazon Kindle, Visa, Groupon, and several other retail and restaurant gift cards.
- Toys “R” Us-Use Toys “R” Us gift cards to buy from their small selection, including Amazon and iTunes gift cards.
- Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club/Murphy USA-All allow buying other gift cards with Wal-Mart gift cards.
*I wanted to let you know that these popular stores, by policy, won’t let you purchase third party gift cards with their gift cards: Amazon.com (definitely can’t since it’s all done online), CVS, Kohl’s, Home Depot, JC Penny, Lowe’s, and Shoprite.
*Want to get wild? Buy an Ebay gift card(in-store where it’s available) with your discounted gift card, and then purchase more discounted gift cards listed on Ebay. Rinse and repeat. You can imagine how long this journey can become, and how you may not be able to resist continuing on!
*Side note* Once you start getting into this game of using gift cards to make money, your mind starts to wonder how else you can maximize the potential. For example, some suggest going through a shopping portal like Ebates or MrRebates, buy gift cards from partnered retailers, and then go back and buy more gift cards with those gift cards. It’s appealing because you’re getting cash back through those shopping portals and earning rewards on your credit cards. The problem here is, you went through all the trouble and headache, and your gift card purchases may not even earn the cash back because of the terms and conditions of the shopping portal. Furthermore, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express gift cards all have purchase fees if you’re trying to buy these types. What it all comes down to is taking the more straightforward approach, and the approach that leads to a higher likelihood of success.
For me, buying discounted gift cards at online gift card exchange sites with my rewards credit card, and then converting those into an Amazon or other preferred no-fee gift card is a little less hassle and works a great percentage of the time.
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