Most of the time, I discuss ways to get more miles for whatever you do. Today, however, I’m going to take it the opposite direction and talk about a way to save some money while doing so.
Triple-Dipping on Gift Cards
Gift cards serve one purpose in life: They serve as a present when you can’t think of anything else. What to do with them is the recipient’s problem. They’re the modern day Sharper Image.
But somebody has to figure out what to do with those gift cards, and that’s where resale sites come in (I’ll discuss them below). They’re just what they sound like: The owner of the gift card puts it on the site to sell at a discount and the site takes a cut. Discounts are very small for popular gift cards (A $100 Amazon card, for instance, may cost you $99.) but there are some great values, including restaurants and department stores that are frequently available at 20% or more off the face value. Everyone’s happy: You get $50 at your favorite restaurant for $40, the site gets its cut and the seller has $35-40 that they wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Your role in this transaction is as the buyer, picking up gift cards at a discount. Everything is for sale, from Amazon to Zales, with plenty of travel providers (Marriott, Delta, etc.) thrown in, as well. But the discount from the reseller isn’t the only one. The strategy below is stackable* for triple dipping.
There are a number of gift card resellers out there, but some are bigger than others. You’re probably best off sticking with the major ones, such as Cardpool, Gift Card Granny and Raise. I will discuss them below. But no matter which gift card site you use, make sure that your card comes with a guarantee that the value you bought will be the value that you get.
First, Pick Your Credit Card
Your credit card is the first opportunity for a “discount,” or a reward, depending on what you choose. It’s like any other purchase where you earn cash back or points. In the absence of a better idea, I recommend the Citi Double Cash Card, which pays you 2% on every purchase. That knocks a couple of percent off the price up front.
Second, Access The Reseller Site Correctly
Here’s the step that most people miss. You should always access the various gift card resellers through a cash back shopping site. A cash back shopping site simply directs you to a retailer. Because that site links you, the retailer gives them a commission, which the shopping site shares with you. It’s the equivalent of getting a discount at the mall because you entered at the west entrance instead of the east entrance, and is as simple as clicking on the shopping site and then typing in the name of the store that you want to shop at. They’ll tell you how much money you will get back. In this case, you visit the shopping site, type in “Raise” or “Cardpool” or “Gift Card Granny” and they’ll send you to the chosen reseller. You’ll pick up another couple of percent by doing it this way.
And Finally, The Purchase
Now it’s time to buy your gift card. Let’s say that you are booking a trip on Delta and decide you want to save a few percent. You’ll use your 2% cash back card from Citi (or whichever card you choose). Easy enough. Then, look for a gift card reseller. The best one for this particular deal (at the moment) is Cardpool. So you head straight to your favorite cash back shopping site (In this case, the best return comes from BeFrugal. You can sign up here.).**
Here’s the process:
- Go to befrugal.com and search for “Cardpool.” That will get you an extra 2% back. Then, once you click on Cardpool, you search for Delta, where you’ll see a list of available gift cards like the ones above.
- Buy the gift card, use it immediately at Delta.
- You’re done. You’ve saved up to 6.5% on that portion of your flight (depending on which gift card above you buy), not to mention the 4% you get from your credit card and BeFrugal.
And what did it cost you? Exactly the time it took for one extra click, when you started your search through BeFrugal instead of accessing Cardpool directly. Even better, you can then repeat the process to save money on your hotel!
Enjoy the big bucks!
*Beginner’s Hint: “Stackable” means that multiple discounts can be used at a time. An example would be when you go to the supermarket and use both a manufacturer’s and a store’s coupon. Double discount!
**There are several different cashback shopping sites. In most cases, it’s worth it to stick to one that you know and trust, rather than trying for an extra 1/2% at a site you’ve never used before.
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And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!