Consumer Wise: Getting deals on popular gift cards

By Angie Moreschi, Consumer Wise Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 6:13 AM EST

When it comes to holiday gifts, chances are you’ll either give or get a gift card.

“They’re quick and easy and simple on the holidays,” said Calleija Henderson, a holiday shopper at Target, who says she gives gift cards, especially when she can’t find the right present for someone.

Shopper Cyrelle Donaire said he definitely likes to get gift cards.

“H & M, Nordstrom, something like that,” he explained are some of his favorites. “It’s literally just electronic money.”

Most Popular Gift Cards

According to a WalletHub survey, 41 percent of Americans say they want a gift card this holiday season. The 10 most popular in the survey:

  • Amazon
  • Visa
  • Walmart
  • American Express
  • iTunes
  • Target
  • Starbucks
  • Disney
  • Sephora
  • eBay

“Personally, I would get Target, because I love Target!” said shopper Abbie Nichols, laughing.

For Jacoya, who was shopping with her toddler twins, gift cards are more of a practical, last resort, but definitely one she turns to when needed.

“I like getting the Visa gift cards, so you can get whatever you like, but I actually also like getting the ones for restaurants. You can’t go wrong with eating,” she said.

Getting Gift Card Deals

One way to score deals on gift cards is online-- at websites like RetailMeNot and DealNews.com and GiftCardGranny.com. You can click and compare the different websites to find the best deals on your favorite cards.

They offer promotions and discounts on popular gift cards — everything from Starbucks, Amazon, movie theaters, restaurants, and department stores.  You can get anywhere from one percent off the face value of a gift card to 5, 10 or 15 percent off, depending on how popular they are.  If you’re buying a bunch to hand out as presents, that adds up.

“Oh, I didn’t know that, but I’ll have to check it out,” Nichols said.

Gift Card Re-sellers

If you get a gift card you don’t want, you can check out gift card re-sellers — like card-pool.com. They buy un-used cards for about 60 to 90 percent off face value, then re-sell them at a discount.

“I think that’s awesome. Any deals are all welcome,” Donaire said.

Check for Limitations

Whether you give or get a gift card this year, it’s always a good idea to look on the back for any limitations.

Regular gift cards like the ones you buy online or at the store — by law — cannot expire for at least five years. But promotional gift cards — the ‘Buy One Get One’ free type or ones that you get through loyalty programs — have no restrictions on when they expire. So, keep that in mind, especially if you’re giving one as a gift.

Something for Everyone

Gift cards used to get a bad rap for not being personal enough, but with the wide variety of cards these days you can tailor a gift card to the likes of the recipient, whether it’s going to the movies, out to dinner, or to a store with a very popular mouse.

“Who’s that? Is that Mickey?!” Jacoya said, showing a Disney gift card to her 20-month-old twins Noelle and Noah. Noelle grabbed the card and beamed a big smile. “Do you like that?” Jacoya asked. That would be a resounding ‘Yes!’