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Why do I resist spending gift cards?
Old 01-06-2013, 12:13 AM   #1
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Why do I resist spending gift cards?

The other spending thread made me think of a similar issue (smaller scale) that I have with gift cards. I was wondering if there are any kindred spirits here?

I just received a $500 Visa gift card and have no idea what to spend it on, plus I still have a $300 Macy's gift card from 2+ years ago, a gift certificate for a massage from 6 years ago, several Best Buy gift cards in the $50 range from 2-3 years ago, a Chico's gift card for $200 from 2-3 years ago, a Nordstrom's gift card for $50 from 7 years ago, etc.

It's not like I'm intentionally saving these up for any reason. I just do not feel compelled to go out and buy something simply because I have a gift card. Whereas my ex-SO would be out spending any gift cards he received typically within a day or two of receipt.

I can use the Visa card most anywhere that they take credit cards, but for some odd reason it seems like I should do something "special" with it...but I don't know what.

I guess I simply don't need or want anything at the moment.

omni
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:20 AM   #2
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What about buying clothes or shoes and give them to homeless shelters during this winter ? This would be special. I know you have a generous heart.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:25 AM   #3
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Gift Card Exchange - Buy, Sell, and Trade Gift Cards Online | Cardpool will buy many of the main store gift cards back from you. In the cases of the more popular ones, the discount at which you sell them isn't that great.
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:21 AM   #4
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I received a VISA gift card and simply applied it to my electric bill. Fast and easy!
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:33 AM   #5
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I get the ones from Penfed for the cash rewards card and just use them at the grocery store. Nothing special.

And I love it when my sis gives me Bath and Body Works gift certificates-I go online and order shampoo and conditioner.

Use them-it is a shame to let them go to waste when someone has already paid for them!
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:07 AM   #6
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Unless you live in California, most gift cards lose value each year. Might as well spend it. You can sell them. PlasticJungle is one of the websites.

I spend them on gas, groceries or nonperishable items. The dept. store cards would be tough for me because I never want anything. I think I would try and buy something that I know I would replace eventually - like winter boots or pillows and towels - things that wouldn't go out of style.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
The other spending thread made me think of a similar issue (smaller scale) that I have with gift cards. I was wondering if there are any kindred spirits here?
Many may lose their value. Look for a family member or friend that shops at those stores and offer to sell the card at 80% or so of face value.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:16 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
I just received a $500 Visa gift card and have no idea what to spend it on, plus I still have a $300 Macy's gift card from 2+ years ago, a gift certificate for a massage from 6 years ago, several Best Buy gift cards in the $50 range from 2-3 years ago, a Chico's gift card for $200 from 2-3 years ago, a Nordstrom's gift card for $50 from 7 years ago, etc.

omni

Like some others, I would treat the Visa gift card as cash in the pocket and spend it on whatever regular out-of-pocket expense came up next. The Best Buy, Macy's and Nordstrom cards I would use as "excuses" to go window shopping at those stores and as "permission" to impulse buy whatever struck my fancy. After all, it's not my money that went into the cards, so there's no resistance there for me.

Case in point: I NEVER would spend the money for a Starbucks hoity-toity coffee -- but I just got a $15 Starbucks gift card out of the blue and I intend to go today and treat myself (again with someone else's money).
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
I just received a $500 Visa gift card and have no idea what to spend it on, plus I still have a $300 Macy's gift card from 2+ years ago, a gift certificate for a massage from 6 years ago, several Best Buy gift cards in the $50 range from 2-3 years ago, a Chico's gift card for $200 from 2-3 years ago, a Nordstrom's gift card for $50 from 7 years ago, etc.
When I receive gift cards for someplace that I would not want to shop/visit (or is not convenient since I live in the boonies), I often give them to friends who would like to use them. Some gift cards have an expiration date so you might have a few that are no longer good.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:40 AM   #10
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Some good ideas here.

Thanks, everyone.

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Old 01-06-2013, 08:43 AM   #11
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Perhaps you could use the VISA gift card on some therapy as to why you are reluctant to use gift cards?
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:41 AM   #12
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What about buying clothes or shoes and give them to homeless shelters during this winter ? This would be special. I know you have a generous heart.
You could donate the retail store gift cards to a women's shelter or a homeless shelter where they're always seeking cosmetics, clothing, and shoes to help their clients dress for job interviews. Nordstrom's might be a little high end for a job-interview makeover, but when the shelter staff show up at the store with the gift card then I suspect that they get a little extra discount than us average shoppers.

You could donate the other gift cards to any volunteer organization. If the charity doesn't use them for their beneficiaries, at the very least they can hand them out to their valued volunteers.

If you're getting a lot of unused gift cards, perhaps it's time to have a discussion with the giver about why you guys are swapping gift cards. Unless, of course, these are all unsolicited contributions from grateful admirers!
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:13 AM   #13
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I like to try to use any gift cards that we get as quickly as possible. I am afraid that the store might go out of business, or that we will lose the card. I found one gift card that had expired a few years back and I can't remember now why I called them about it, but it turns out he said he would reissue it to me. I ended the conversation and thought that I would never see that new card, but it came in the mail and I spent it very quickly. We did receive a gift certificate to a restaurant, that eventually went out of business, and I felt bad that we had wasted the person's money who had given it to us. I have a $50.00 Visa gift card in my purse and must remember to use it when I go to Wal-Mart or Sam's Club.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:18 AM   #14
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I have gotten some gift cards over the years and they are often a PITA to use for several reasons.

(1) I so rarely use plastic to buy things that half the time I forget to use it, so I end up carrying it around for weeks if not longer before I actually use it.

(2) Whatever I buy has to exceed the value on the gift card so I can use it all in one shot and not have to remember how much is left on it. Once or twice over the years, particularly with store gift cards from stores I rarely shop at, I have not been able to do this which is another PITA. Took 2 visits to use a $10 Starbucks card a few years ago. Thankfully, I have never received a gift card worth more than $25.

(3) Can't use gift cards at my local gas station any more since the owner introduced a price differential for cash versus plastic. This leaves the supermarket as my main place to use them.

I feel your pain, Omni550.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:32 AM   #15
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I redeemed gift cards are a huge profit center for retailers, although they must initially be listed as liabilities on the balance sheet.

Retailers find profit windfall -- unused gift cards - seattlepi.com

However, it seems that gift card recipients are becoming a bit more efficient in redeeming their cards.

$2 Billion of Unredeemed Gift Cards Go Unused in 2012 | TIME.com

Bottom line: use gift cards as soon as possible. Otherwise your friends will have wasted their money. If using them causes you pain, give them away to someone who can make use of them. If you would rather not receive gift cards, suggest alternatives to your friends.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:34 PM   #16
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Gift cards are the easiest thing to sell on ebay . I have sold several for just about the full amount .You just have to make sure they are still valid and what the value is .
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:10 PM   #17
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I am not "lucky" enough to have people who give me nice gift cards that I don't know what to do with However, I am expecting some Visa prepaid cards from using my Penfed Visa for rewards points. I would rather just get an electronic funds transfer, which I could save or invest. So, I will "spend" the cards on groceries, etc., and will take the same amount of $$ from checking and send it to Vanguard. That is my way of "investing" the prepaid card money.

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Old 01-06-2013, 02:42 PM   #18
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Guess we're polar opposites. We don't mind buying gift cards provided there's an incentive. The last couple of Christmas seasons, retailers have been pushing the sale of gift cards tied with 10-30% discounts. We bought Lowes GC's in the past, this year Paypal offered 20%-33% off Home Depot purchases (incl GC's) if you used their new Paypal "pay in store" option. Ended up buying $210 this year just to lock in the savings. Going forward, we know we'll be buying much more, but I'm sure I'll find additional savings to make the prices even lower. Also bought a bunch of GC's for food places we frequent, nothing like getting extra $5 off each $25 GC if you use them regularly.

The biggest downfalls are losing a GC, not getting the money added onto the card (it's happened a few times so you need to check the balance immediately after) and remembering to bring them with you. We keep a GC binder just to keep track of them.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:06 PM   #19
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Unless you live in California, most gift cards lose value each year. Might as well spend it. You can sell them. PlasticJungle is one of the websites.

.
Even in CA, the only ones that hold value are the ones from the stores.
GCs from e.g. VISA still lose value.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:21 PM   #20
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Even in CA, the only ones that hold value are the ones from the stores.
GCs from e.g. VISA still lose value.
Federal law now prevents all gift cards from expiring within 5 years of purchase, general purpose cards are more likely to charge so-called "maintenance" or "dormancy" fees, monthly charges that can reduce the card's remaining balance long before the five years are up. By law, these fees can't kick in until at least 12 months after purchase.

I find it really hard to believe you can't spend a Visa GC just like cash or a credit card. You have one year to use it just once to stop the fees, then the calendar will reset for another year (may vary by card). Otherwise, use the Visa GC to buy a nice frame and hang it on the wall!
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