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A smart guide to saving money with gift cards

The road to financial wellness is paved with smart choices, and one often underestimated tool in this journey is the humble gift card. From strategically using gift cards doubled-up with a coupons to buying discounted gift cards, you can find clever ways to stretch your gift card dollar. Discover practical strategies to saving money with gift cards that ensure your hard-earned dollars go further and contribute to your overall financial health. 

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Strategic gift card purchases

Not all gift cards are created equal. Seek out discounts or bonus offers when buying them. 

Many retailers and online platforms provide extra value or perks during promotions. For instance, purchasing a $50 gift card with an additional $10 bonus effectively gives you a 20% discount, a savvy way to make the most of your money.

Roost Tip! Read the fine print, some of these deals come with extra rules, like the Regal gift card holiday promotions. You can buy a $50 gift certificate and get a $10 bonus card towards concessions but you can only use the bonus card during a certain month and it expires if you don’t use it all.

Another great option is to buy a gift card from big retailers that discount them, like Costco. You can find great deals like $100 value for a gift card that cost only $80.

Budgeting with gift cards

Allocate specific cards for different budget categories. This helps you control spending in each category and prevents overspending. 

For instance, designate a card for groceries, another for entertainment, and one for gas. 

Prepaid Visa cards can work great for this strategy or cards for specific stores like a Walmart gift card or a Shell gas card.

By using these cards strategically, you’ll gain a clearer picture of your spending habits, contributing to responsible financial management.

Cashback and rewards programs

Credit cards often come with perks like cashback or rewards for specific purchases, including gift certificates. 

Make the most of these programs to earn extra benefits on your regular spending. Some cards offer higher cashback percentages or rewards points for purchases made at particular retailers, adding an extra layer of advantage to your gift card purchases.

If you spend a lot of money on outdoor gear, for example, you can earn an extra 5% rewards on REI purchases with an REI Mastercard. You can earn 1.5% rewards everywhere else you spend. 

Discounted gift cards from resellers

Explore reputable gift card reseller websites where you can buy gift cards at a discounted rate. 

This is an excellent way to stretch your budget further. Websites like Raise or Gift Card Granny offer gift cards at a fraction of their face value, allowing you to save money on purchases you were already planning to make.

Stacking Discounts and Coupons

Combine gift card discounts with other promotions, coupons, or discounts offered by retailers. 

This stacking method can lead to significant savings. For instance, if you have a discounted gift card for a clothing store like Old Navy and there’s a store-wide sale (which is pretty much every other week at Old Navy) or a coupon available, you can multiply your savings.

Budgeting apps for gift cards

Use budgeting apps that allow you to track and manage your card balances. 

Apps like Gyft or Gift Card Granny provide features to organize and monitor your gift card usage. 

By staying organized, you can ensure that you fully utilize the balances on your cards and don’t let that money go to waste.

Sell or trade unwanted gift cards

If you receive a gift card for a store or service you don’t use, consider selling or trading it. 

Websites like Cardpool or Gift Card Granny allow you to sell unwanted gift cards or exchange them for ones you’ll use. This way, you can convert unused gift card balance into cash or cards you’ll benefit from.

What is your gift certificate value?

If you’re thinking about selling or trading your gift certificate you can go to site like WalletHub, to find out what it is worth. 

Walmart gift cards, for example are popular and might be valued more than a less popular gift card like 

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Are gift card exchanges safe?

Generally, yes. Always look for things like double authentication for security, especially if you are linking your bank account. 

It’s always a good idea to: 

  • Use reputable sites
  • Read user reviews
  • Avoid places like E-Bay or Craig’s List

Whenever buying or selling on-line you want to be aware of steps you can take to protect your identity and financial information.

Digital wallets for easy card use

Modern digital options allow most card balances to be uploaded into a digital wallet like Google Pay. Add your balance intoy our digital wallet and it’s with you everywhere you go. This way you aren’t lamenting the fact that you don’t have your gift card on you when you decided to drop by a store that you have a card for. 

Digital wallets are also great for:

  • Greater security
  • Tracking card balances
  • Streamlining the checkout process
  • No more lost gift cards!!

Gift card etiquette

There are a few do’s and don’ts to giving and receiving gift cards.


  • Keep the recipient’s preferences and tastes in mind
  • Be aware of expiration dates and restrictions and make sure to point them out to someone
  • Include a personalized note with your card


  • Regift partially used cards
  • Buy a gift card for someone if they expressly said they don’t want one
  • Be ungracious if you get a gift card you don’t like – there are plenty of ways to sell or trade your unwanted card for something you’ll like

Gift certificates for special occasions

Whether a birthday or a holiday, gift certificates make great gifts. Customize it to the event or the person. 

Got newlyweds in your life who just bought a house? Consider a gift certificate to a home improvement store. Know a college student struggling with money? Maybe a gas gift card to help them with transportation. 

Tailoring your gift to the unique person or situation will make it special.

They can also make great thank you gifts! Someone help you recently, like moving? Consider moving thank you gifts like a card for a nice restaurant or spa experience.

What are some ways to make fast cash?

Gift cards will only get you so far. If you’re looking for ways to make fast cash to stretch your budget here are some of our favorites.

5 Top gift card tips to save money

1. Buy discounted cards

If you’re buying gift certificates as gifts, look for discounted cards. You’ll find discounted gift cards at stores like Costco and can save up to 20% on their value.

2. Buy gift cards with rewards points

Most credit card companies offer points for purchases and allow you to redeem those points for gift cards. 

3. Stick to your budget when using gift certificates

Spending more than you normally would is pretty common when you use a gift card. Treat a gift card like cash in your bank account rather than ‘free’ money. It’ll help you stick to your budget.

4. Avoid pre-paid cards as gifts

Pre-paid cards usually have fees that cut into their cash value like transaction fees and inactivity fees. Try giving cash instead, most people appreciate it more anyways.

5. Watch out for card inactivity fees

Banned in many states, some states still allow gift cards to charge fees by deducting it from your card balance if you haven’t used it before a certain time period.

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Smart money choices with gift cards

Financial wellness is about making smart choices with your money, and gift cards can be a valuable tool in achieving this goal. By strategically purchasing, budgeting, and leveraging discounts, you can use gift cards to save money and stretch your budget further. Incorporate these practical tips into your financial routine, and watch as your dollars work harder for you.