C all me cynical, but I am not all that keen on giving gift cards. I realize that gift cards have a certain vogue that makes them more appropriate than cash, but I am never quite sure if the recipient will appreciate the chosen vendor or even use the card. I know that I have received gift cards, put them away “for now”, and then discovered them months or even years later. However, purchasing bargain gift cards is an entirely different story. Why? Because, although they can be given as gifts, I prefer to emphasize the “bargain” aspect for the buyer. If you are going to buy from a certain merchant anyway, why not first buy one (or more) of that merchant’s cards at a discounted price and save yourself some money ? Where do you find these discounted cards? Although specific bargain cards are sometimes offered through original vendors (especially at holiday time), from reward credit card companies (by cashing in credit card reward points for gift cards instead of cash), and via membership in some warehouse clubs, nearly any gift card can be found second hand. These pique my interest because, as I already mentioned, I don’t consider a bargain card to be a bargain unless I am already planning to make that purchase from that specific vendor. My Gift Card Experiment Follow along with me as I search for some bargains, but first a disclaimer: in order to make this experiment true to life, I picked actual merchants and bargain card companies. Please do not infer that I am promoting the vendors or that these bargain card options are necessarily the best. OK? Here we go. Hypothetically, I am going to spend $1500 on new kitchen appliances from Home Depot, $60 to take my wife out to eat at Red Lobster and $20 on some movie tickets from Fandago. I will be shopping for discounted gift cards at Ebay, Plastic Jungle, Gift Card Granny, and Cardpool. Kitchen appliances from Home Depot Ebay Because Ebay is an auction site, I am avoiding live auctions and considering only the “buy it now” option. I found an assortment of Home Depot cards with 3% to 7% discounts. Plastic Jungle Plastic Jungle buys and re-sells used cards. I would need to buy a number of $150 to $200 Home Depot cards, all at 7% discount, to reach my $1,500 goal. Cardpool Like Plastic Jungle, Cardpool buys used cards and re-sells them. The deduction for Home Depot cards was 7%. Gift Card Granny This site is a brokerage for those wanting to buy and sell gift cards. Although I couldn’t buy directly from this site, they did all of the hard work of finding the best bargain card deals for me. Granny also has a sign-up feature which will send out an email notifying me when new discounted cards from specific vendors become available. This being said, the best discounts I could find were in the 7% range. Conclusion : I would buy my cards from Plastic Jungle or Cardpool, saving $105 with the 7% discount. I like the idea of dealing directly with the seller and the fact that both of these sites guarantee their cards and sell only no-fee and no expiration cards. Also, shipping is free with both. Eating out at Red Lobster Ebay : There were no “buy it now” Red Lobster gift cards available on E-bay. The bidding on a $40 card with five hours left in the auction was $34.71. Plastic Jungle did not have any Red Lobster cards available. Gift Card Granny directed me to a site where I could purchase (through PayPal) a $60 Red Lobster card for $55.20 – an 8% discount. Cardpool offered Red Lobster cards in $25 increments, all at an 8% discount. Conclusion : I would opt for the Cardpool offer. I couldn’t find a bigger discount elsewhere and (as previously stated) I like their guarantees. Movie at Fandango Ebay : I found a $50 “buy it now” card from a top rated seller for $30. The seller offered a 14 day return policy. Plastic Jungle offered $25 Fandango cards for $20. Gift Card Granny pointed me to the same Ebay “buy it now” seller mentioned above: a $50 card for $30. Cardpool offered Fandango cards in $25 increments, all at a 9% discount. Conclusion : I would take buy the $50 card for $30 from Ebay. Yes, I realize that I was only planning to spend $20, but the I would go ahead and pay $30 to get the 40% discount. My thoughts Candidly, I was hoping to find more “super deals” on these bargain gift cards. Still, with a little research and effort, I learned that one can save some bucks with them. Do you purchase discounted gift cards? Do you give them as gifts or do you use them yourself? Where do you get the best deals? Related Articles: How and Where to Find Discounted Gift Cards The worst gift cards to have Gift Cards: How To Manage Them Wisely Visa gift cards: A good idea? Joe Plemon, a retired engineer, financial counselor and blogger, lives in Southern Illinois with Janice, his wife of 40 years. Joe likes online Scrabble, St Louis Cardinal baseball, blues music, power naps, high school football, short term mission trips and Sunday family dinners. You can read more from Joe at Personal Finance by the Book .
How to Buy Gift Cards for Less