Are you getting ready to provide gifts this holiday season? If you're anything like me, you've started your Christmas shopping already. I actually give gift cards a lot during the holidays. For my little nieces and nephew, I do a little more and buy actual toys. But for the adults — my siblings (and their spouses) and my parents — I like to get gift cards.
CardHub.com put out a list of great ideas for buying gift cards during the holiday season. Some of the items on the list include selling your unused gift cards to recoup some of the cash, and using wish lists to ensure that you get cards that others will use — or that you get a card that you will use. If your giftee has a wishlist at a particular retailer, there is a good chance that a gift card to that store will be appreciated.
Here are some of my favorite tips from the CardHub article, along with my own observations about purchasing gift cards for others during the holiday season:
1. Get Something Uniquely Enjoyable
This is related to the wishlists. Sure, you can get an all-purpose gift card that can be used by the recipient anywhere. But part of the fun of holiday gift-giving is that you give something frivolous and unique. I like to think of an experience that someone might enjoy. I find a local restaurant that the recipient might like — but not feel comfortable visiting on his or her own. Or, I get tickets to the movie theater because I know that the recipient would enjoy a movie. The idea is to make it fun and enjoyable for the recipient, in addition to being something he or she would use.
2. Discounted Gift Cards
I loved that HubCards included this item. I occasionally buy discounted gift cards using sites like GiftCardGranny.com, Cardpool.com, or purchasing through CityDeals. You can get more bang for your buck, and you can treat the recipient to something even better. Make a list of possibilities for the different people you are buying gifts for. Then, keep an eye out for discounted gift cards, as well as pay attention to social sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. You never know when the perfect discounted certificate or gift card will come along.
3. Know The Terms Of The Gift Card
The Credit CARD Act of 2009 prohibits gift cards from expiring less than five years from when the gift card was issued or last reloaded, so that's nice to know. But, as CardHub points out, there are other items to be on the watch for. Gift card issuers can charge up front fees (many all purpose cards from AmEx and Visa come with activation fees you pay at the register). Read the disclosures about the gift card to make sure that you are getting what you expect.
Also, if you buy discounted gift cards, make sure they will be valid where they are likely to be used. I once almost bought a discounted gift card to a franchise chain restaurant. Just before completing the purchase, I noticed it was a local discount, offered only at the restaurant owned locally. It would have been useless elsewhere. Be sure you know the terms, how much is available on the discounted card, and other details.
Do you give gift cards?