If you aren’t buying gift cards this holiday (ahem, shopping) season, you’re in the minority. Something like eight out of 10 holiday shoppers have plans to buy gift cards, according to the latest numbers from the National Retail Federation’s 2011 holiday survey.
What you might not know is that you don’t have to pay full price for gift cards, according to this neat little piece from MSNBC. The answer: Buy them from resellers and save up to 35 percent on gift cards from retailers like Home Depot and Macy’s.
But here’s the thing you may not have considered: You don’t necessarily have to buy a discounted gift card and give it as a gift. (“Here’s a gift card with $33.97 on it. Merry Christmas!”)
You can buy a discounted gift card and use it to buy gifts.
This is genius, I think. Buy a $200 gift card to Pottery Barn for $180, then use it to pick up gifts for a handful of people on your list—and you’ve saved 10 percent before you even started.
MSNBC recommends using established sites to do this, and I second that recommendation, but I’d never really poked around on them before. So here’s a rundown:
- Plastic Jungle: This seems like a really nice site, selling gift cards from a variety of big-name retailers, and you simply search for what you want, and purchase. Completely simple. (Spotted: 10% off cards from Pottery Barn Kids.)
- Gift Card Granny: At first glance, this site seems like it offers a ton of great gift cards, but then you realize that the majority of them are eBay finds—meaning you have to jockey with the masses to secure the deal. I don’t have time for this. (Maybe you do. Go for it.)
- CardHub: I’ve heard good things about this site, but I can’t tell you much. The gift card portion of the website was down all day.
- Cardpool: Another nice little site with a nice selection of gift cards. (Spotted: 15% off gift cards from Anthropologie.)
- Giftcards.com: Limited selection, and you can’t tell what kind of discount you’ll get until you click on a merchant. Even then, the site doesn’t calculate the discount for you, as other sites do. That doesn’t mean there are no good deals here, but you’ll have to work harder to find them. (Spotted: 13% off cards from Pier One.)
- Gift Card Castle: I wasn’t wowed by the selection here, either. (Why so many Tommy Bahama cards? Do people really buy gift cards for Tommy Bahama?) There is no way to sort by discount, and many of the major retailers are missing. Not impressed, but again, you should check it out if you have a specific retailer in mind. (Spotted: 12% off cards from iTunes.)
Last, but not least, a note: These sites will also help you sell a gift card, if you get one that doesn’t appeal to you. Just something to think about, come January.
Shop on, campers. Shop on.
(Bracelet from Courtney Dirks on Flickr.)