2015-12-02 / Front Page

Gift Cards: The New Holiday Cash

By Liz Goff
Gift cards, the new millennium form of holiday cash, have become the gift of choice for New Yorkers wanting to avoid the long lines and hassle of holiday shopping. Many people prefer giving gift cards to online shopping that can expose your personal information to cyber thieves, retail experts said.

According to the National Retail Federation, at lest 70 per cent of holiday gift cards remain unused for up to a year – and 20 per cent are never redeemed.

Regardless if they save or use the cards immediately, most people love getting gift cards at the holiday season, retail experts said. No matter if you are giving or receiving, chances are you will run into a holiday gift card this season, a spokesperson for the National Retail Federation said.

The following is a list of tips you should know about holiday gift cards, like how to get the most for your money and understanding new card expiration laws:

  • Know where your family and friends shop. Giving cards to stores they don’t shop at is like not giving a gift at all
  • Gift cards for restaurants, home improvement stores, even supermarkets are a welcome surprise for consumers struggling to make ends meet
  • In case you are not aware, the CARD Act prohibits gift cards from expiring less than five years from the date they were purchased.
  • Did you know, you can “re-gift” a card by trading it in for a new card of equal value, you can sell unused cards for cash through online gift exchanges and obtain funds from expired cards through state programs
  • When shopping with your gift card, remember to stay within the value of the card, experts said. Post-holiday sales often tempt us to spend more than the value of the card, turning the gift into an unanticipated expense.
  • If you are the giver – and not the recipient of the cards, take time to search for the best bargains. Remember, your family and friends will not know that you paid 50 per cent less for the card than its actual value
  • Hold on to cards and use them to make purchases during special sales. Gift cards are the perfect way to cash in on an unexpected sale, especially when your funds are low, experts said.

Why give gift cards?

  • They’re affordable. Websites like “GiftCardGrannny.com sell gift cards for less than face value. Offering savings of up to 30 per cent, these sites allow you to give gift cards without your family or friends knowing what you really paid for them!
  • They’re “One Size Fits All.” No more wondering if that sweater will fit your sister or if a favorite child will frown at that toy. Affiliated stores like Marshalls offer cards that are interchangeable from store to store.
  • Many stores will send them for you. Stores like P.C. Richard and Best Buy allow you to purchase gift cards online – and they mail or email them to your family and friends.
  • Short on holiday cash but long on gift cards? You can send cards you received without worrying that your friends and family will know you’re re-gifting. The generic quality of gift cards makes it all possible.
  • Some gift cards are free! Major retailers offer free gift cards with certain purchases, like a free $20 gift card with every $50 purchase.

Remember, some credit card companies allow you to redeem reward points for gift cards,k a perfect way to save money on gifts this holiday season.

Choose gift cards carefully, purchase them wisely and make sure you get the most for your money, retail exerts said.





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