Practical Presents: Gift Card Smarts for Seasoned Shoppers

You want to get someone something really special for their birthday, Christmas, some other holiday. You think long and hard about what the perfect gift should be.
This gift has to be so amazing that they jump out of their socks and smother you with hugs and kisses. So, after much deliberation, and much list-making, it finally happened.

A bolt from the blue.

You figured out what you’re going to buy your friend or relative: cash.

What? Cash is so boring. It’s uninspired. It’s a lame cop out for not actually buying a real gift. Or, is it?


Inspired or Themed Gift Cards

Themed gift cards is more of an idea than a specific kind of card. With themed cards, you’re trying to encourage the person to spend their card on something. Most of the time, the card helps you do that because store cards are specific to that store.
So, for example, if you buy a Best Buy gift card, the only place the recipient can spend that money is at Best Buy. But, you don’t want to just hand the person a gift card for the store and leave it at that.

Maybe your friend or relative has been thinking about getting a new T.V. To continue the Best Buy example, you could go out and do some research and reading about the best T.V.s on the market right now. Get your hands on professional reviews, print them out, and put them in a binder.

You could also snap some photos of you in the store checking out the models. Make the whole gift tell a story for the recipient.

When they open up their gift card. It won’t just be a gift card. It will be your story about how you went out and found the best deal, the best T.V. at the best price – so much more valuable than handing them a wad of cash.


Buying Discounted Gift Cards

Discounted gift cards are a slam dunk, if you can find legitimate ones. Some sites out there pay people for trading in unused or unwanted gift cards. They give the person cash for them. But, they don’t give them all of the cash. Instead, they offer to pay them a portion of the gift card for the liquidity.

Result? The company can then turn around and sell you the card at a discount. You get a gift card worth $50, for example, for perhaps $40, or maybe even $25. Not only is this a huge savings, it’s a great way to get more “bang for your buck” and give that special someone money for things they want or need.

The Gift That Gives is a promo sponsored by Bed Bath & Beyond, for example.

These Bed Bath & Beyond gift cards don’t rely on a third-party company to pull it off though. They simply offer a discount coupon good for in-store purchases.


A Word About Expirations

Make sure your gift card doesn’t have an expiration date on it. Expirations on gift cards are lame. Ditto for gift cards that charge money for the privilege of using the card or for cards charging fees after a set amount of time.

The gift card you get should just have money on it, with no strings attached and no fees or weird charges.

At the end of the day, gift cards are a special form of cash. So, there’s no reason to make that gift more expensive than it has to be. Which is to say, your gift card should be free money for the person receiving it.

Eva Macintosh would love to own her own gift shop selling one-of-a-kind and limited edition handmade items. But she’s a few years away from realizing her dream. Until then she writes articles for lifestyle and women’s blogs about gift giving.