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Stop Giving Retailers Free Money

Giving gift cards has become tremendously popular over the past few years. A gift card for a store or online site that sells a wide variety of merchandise can be the perfect gift for that person who is so finicky you are sure that anything you give them will only disappoint.  What you may not realize is that there is also a bit of a dark side to gift cards – at least from the consumer’s perspective. Gift cards are essentially an interest free loan from the customer to a business. In that sense,  it is certainly not equitable for both parties engaging in the gift card purchase transaction. Even more disturbing is that if a consumer fails to use all of the gift card, the gift card seller is not only getting an interest free loan, but is also getting free money. How much free money do retailers get from selling gift cards? According to Paul Lews, writer for BBC news in 2012, consumers waste 250 million pounds each year on gift cards.

Here are a few ways you can stop giving retailers free money. Keep in mind that if you have gift cards for items you would have bought anyhow, making sure you spend the entire amount of your gift card balances is essentially saving you the other money you would have spent on those purchases.

Keep Your Gift Cards In One Place And Track The Balances
How many times have you been excited to receive a gift card only to find that you eventually lose track of it? That is money wasted. By keeping all of your gift cards in one place together with a tally sheet of each gift card’s balance, you never have to worry about losing money to the gift card gremlins that steal them away into oblivion.

Track the balance of each gift card as follows;
Keep a list of your gift cards in the place where you store your gift cards. In pencil, write the current balance next to each gift card on the list. If you have digital gift cards, make sure to put them on the list. If a gift card has an expiration date, make a note of it. Keep a small notepad or index card with you and each time you use a gift card, note how much you have spent.When you get back to your home, subtract the amount you spent on each gift card from the associated gift card balance on the tally sheet you have placed with the gift cards. You can track this all digitally if you like, but the advantage of keeping running balances of the gift cards in the manner suggested is that it keeps the gift cards at the front of mind.

Consolidate Your Gift Cards

If you have several gift cards from the same merchant, you may be able to transfer all of your balances onto one card. By consolidating your gift card balances, you will have less to track and will be less likely to leave gift card money on the table. There are a few ways you can find out if the merchant allows this. For offline merchants,  check with a sales clerk at the retail establishment. For online merchants, check the company’s website’s Frequently Asked Questions section.

Sell Your Gift Cards
If you have gift cards you think you will never use, or if you just need some extra cash, consider selling your gift cards through a site such as Gift Card Converter, or try a payday loan for those extra funds. You won’t receive the full value of gift cards when selling, but at least you will recapture some of the value that you would have lost if you had never used the gift card at all.

You could try using sites like Ebay, Gumtree or even Facebook to advertise your unwanted gift cards.

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