Let’s talk about gift cards.
Acquiring Gift Cards
Where do most of your gift cards come from? For instance, we enjoy going out to eat, but we don’t enjoy the expense, so we utilize our cash back rewards on our credit card (Discover, which we love) to obtain gift cards. We haven’t paid out of pocket to eat at Chiptole, Panera, Red Lobster, or Red Robin in years. The nice thing is you get a bit of a bonus turning the cash back into a gift card. Typically for $45 of your cash back reward you can get a $50 gift card.
We don’t get many gift cards from friends/family, but when we do it tends to be for Target since it’s our favorite store. My mom gets a bit mad at me if I don’t spend the gift card on something non-essential, but I do it anyway and use it to buy groceries. Who cares when it all evens out in the end anyway?
Keeping Track of Your Cards
How do you keep track of which gift cards you have and their balance? Well, if you have a smartphone there’s an app for that called GoWallet. For some retailers it’s able to obtain your balance automagically, but others you might have to manually populate.
Storing Gift Cards
Where do you keep all those gift cards? My wallet is only so big, so I keep the restaurant ones on me while the other cards I have live in a cute little metal card holder at home by my coupons.
Spending Those Card Balances
How do you treat gift cards you receive? Do you spend them right away, hold onto them for awhile, never spend them at all? If you do use them, do you buy something you really want, or just buy anything because hey, free stuff!?!
I find that I treat gift cards almost the same as I do my own money regardless of their source. As a result, I tend to hang onto them for awhile until there’s a purchase I find worthwhile. Case in point – I’ve got $31 of iTunes credit that has been sticking around since who knows when (probably several years ago when one Valentine’s Day my husband gave me a $50 iTunes gift card). I’m super stingy about spending gift card money in general. I view it as my money just the same as if I was spending from my own wallet, so I’m careful about what I buy. As for iTunes in particular, I’ve come to find there are very few apps out there that are worth purchasing when a free alternative works just as well. That being said, I have purchased apps before, and will again, but I’m very particular about it. As for music, I like the quality and price that Amazon offers. Needless to say, I’m willing to bet my iTunes credit will be sticking around for awhile.
If you have tips on how to acquire discounted gift cards, please share!