Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Gift card give-back: how you lose and retailers gain
Don't provide an unintended give-back to retailers on those gift cards you received over the holidays. Losing or leaving a few bucks unspent on the card results in billions of dollars saved for retailers each year.
From Home & Family Finance Resource Center, here are some tips to help ensure you are maximizing the value of gift cards:
o Keep your gift cards in a single envelope. Write the dollar value on the card so you know how much you have to spend. (Thanks to the CARD Act of 2009, for the first time, you won't have to contend with fees for cards that have been inactive for less than a year and they won't expire for five years.)
o Consider picking out something that costs a bit more than the value of the card. This will keep you from leaving a tiny balance on the card that goes unspent, especially if you're the kind of consumer who's likely to forget the card exists. But don't get something you don't need or can't afford in the first place.
o Sell your card if it's from a store you'll never frequent. Websites like PlasticJungle, GiftCardRescue, and Swapagift may help you, but note that you will incur a fee.
o See if you can redeem the card at a retailer's online store. Good deals online and free shipping offers may get you more bang for your buck.