While there are a lot of different ways to save money, some of my favorites are the easy methods that don’t take much time or effort. I love being able to make a quick, painless tweak to my habits to save money on things that I need to buy anyway.
One of my go-to strategies for saving money on everything from groceries, to gas, to clothes, to gifts, to travel is to buy discounted gift cards. By purchasing gift cards below face value I can easily save money with just a small effort.
It’s only been within the past year that I really started buying discounted gift cards on a regular basis, but during that time I’ve tried to learn the ins-and-outs to make the most of it.
In this article you’ll find an explanation of how it works, where you can buy discounted gift cards, and tips to get the most savings (hint: if you like cash back credit cards you’ll love what you can do with stacking these rewards).
The Basics of Buying Discounted Gift Cards
There are a few different ways that you can get gift cards below face value and we’ll look at those options in more detail in the section on how to buy discounted gift cards.
While there are a few options and possibilities, the easiest way to get them is to visit one of the many sites listed below that sells gift cards below their face value. Sites like Raise (my personal favorite) will buy people’s unwanted gift cards and then re-sell them to people like you and me.
That store or restaurant that someone else doesn’t like may be a place that you visit frequently, and these gift cards make it easy for you to save money.
One of the keys to using this approach to save money is to only buy gift cards for places that you would shop at anyway. If you buy gift cards simply because they are discounted, you’ll wind up spending more money than you should, and that ruins the whole point of using this method to save money.
The gift cards that you buy can be digital or physical, and you should be able to see which before making a purchase. The physical gift cards will be sent to you in the mail, and the digital cards will involve a code that is emailed to you. In most cases, you can print the digital card if you want to.
Most of the sites that sell the digital cards will send the email to you very shortly after you make a purchase. With the digital cards, you don’t have to do that much planning ahead. If you’re heading out to eat you can buy a digital gift card for a restaurant and use it right away.
→ Related reading: 20+ Realistic Ways to Get Free Amazon Gift Cards
How Much Money Can I Save with Discounted Gift Cards?
The savings will vary depending on a few factors, but in general you can save anywhere from 1% – 30%. The demand for cards at specific stores, websites, and restaurants will impact how much you can save. For example, discounts for grocery store gift cards tend to be low because everyone would love to save on groceries. Restaurants and retail stores tend to have higher savings because people have more particular tastes, and there may not be as much demand for these cards. Most of the restaurant gift cards I’ve purchased have come with a discount of 8% – 20%, but some were higher and some were lower.
Towards the end of the article I’ll share some tips that will help you to maximize your savings, so be sure to read on if you’re interested in getting the best discounts.
When it comes to saving with gift cards, one thing I like to keep in mind is that I am buying gift cards to save on things I need to buy anyway. I love to earn 2% cash back on purchases with my everyday credit card. Even though 2% is a small amount, it adds up. The same thing is true with discounted gift cards. A 4%-5% discount at Lowe’s may not sound like that much, but I know I’m going to spend money there anyway, so I’m pretty happy if I can save that 4%-5%.
Where to Buy Discounted Gift Cards
There are several different places where you can buy discounted gift cards, and I’ll mention some of the best options here.
Buy One Get One Offers
Many stores and restaurants run some sort of promo, usually around the holidays, when you can buy a gift card for a friend and get one for yourself as a free bonus. For example, a restaurant may offer you a $10 gift card for free if you buy a $25 gift card to give to a friend. Of course, you could use this approach to earn some gift cards from your holiday shopping. But you could also buy the gift card for your own use and look at it as a way to save some money. In this scenario, you’d pay $25 but you’d wind up with $35 worth of gift cards.
Keep an eye out for these offers around the holidays and you can get some nice deals.
Shopping Portals Through Your Credit Card
Many cash rewards credit cards have a shopping portal where you can redeem your points/rewards. For example, I use the Chase Freedom card to get 5% cash back on purchases in a specific category each quarter. Chase has the Ultimate Rewards portal where you can redeem your points for cash, travel, or gift cards. It’s very common for there to be some discounted gift cards available through this portal.
For example, right now I could buy gift cards to several stores/restaurants/websites for a 10% discount. If you’re going to spend money at these places anyway, you might as well take advantage of the discount.
Anywhere That Gives You Good Credit Card Rewards
If you have an Amazon Prime credit card you’ll earn 5% cash back on purchases. You can buy gift cards for lots of different stores/restaurants/websites at Amazon, so it’s an easy way to save 5%.
Likewise, if you have the Chase Freedom card you can earn 5% on purchases at grocery stores during certain times of the year. A clever trick is to stock up on gift cards when you’re getting 5% cash back.
Stores like Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s sometimes sell gift cards to other stores and restaurants at a discount.
Raise is my favorite place to buy discounted gift cards. I love Raise for a few important reasons:
- They have a great selection of gift cards available.
- The discounts are better than what you’ll find at some other similar marketplaces.
- They offer a 1-year money-back guarantee.
- You’ll get access to the digital gift cards very quickly (usually within minutes)
As I’ve tried several different sites for buying other people’s unwanted gift cards, there are two basic issues that I run into at a lot of the sites.
First, they may not have the gift cards that I want when I want them. Raise tends to have more available and I can usually find what I want there.
Second, I don’t want to get stuck with a gift card that’s been already used and doesn’t have the value that I paid. Some sites don’t have any guarantee, or a short one. Raise gives you a full year.
Raise sells both digital and physical gift cards, and you can see which one you’re buying before you buy it. The digital cards will be available very quickly, usually within a few minutes. You’ll get an email when it’s ready, plus you can view it in the order history within your dashboard.
I’ve bought a lot of gift cards at Raise over the past year and I’ve yet to have a problem with any of them.
Cardpool is another great place to buy gift cards. Like Raise, Cardpool sells both digital and physical gift cards and offers a 1-year money-back guarantee. Although Cardpool is a great option, from my experience the selection at Cardpool is not quite as good as the selection at Raise. The discounts are similar, but a few times I have been able to buy a gift car