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Gift Cards: Use Them Before You Lose Them
Every year it happens. Family and co-workers always seem to give me gift cards for stores where I don't shop. What's the best way to trade them for cash or cards for the stores I use often? Are any of the sites that facilitate trades any good?
I would first consider the reasons you don't shop at the stores the gift cards come from and think outside the box.
I once won a gift certificate to a local sporting goods store, and believe me, I'm a far cry from an athlete. I ended up getting myself a great pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses and a watch for my father. You'd be surprised at what you can find in unlikely places if you give it a chance.
Is it an expensive store? Check out their clearance or sales, or find a small but wonderful luxury item that you wouldn't otherwise buy for yourself. Is the card for a clothing store that doesn't carry your size (or style)? Look for accessories like scarves, bags or jewelry. Is it to a toy store, and you're kid-free? They're sure to have board games and other grownup-friendly items. Maybe itís for a trendy coffee shop, and you don't drink the stuff? They also carry tea, gourmet foods, and other goodies. Or is it to a hair salon, but you're loyal to your own stylist? Then consider getting a manicure and pedicure or use it to buy products.
If you still can't find anything you like, consider using it to buy gifts for upcoming birthdays or even next Christmas. Then use the money you didn't have to spend on those gifts on a treat for yourself at your favorite store!
If I received gift cards for a store that I didn't shop in, I would try a couple of things. First, I would ask family members if they shopped in those stores and wanted to exchange money for the cards. After that, I would ask co-workers and friends the same thing. Or I would give the cards as gifts as long as they don't have my name on them, making sure I didn't give them back to the same person. I may also buy something from that store and give it to someone as a gift. If all still fails, I would hit a site that buys them, but remember that they will not give me the same amount as they are worth.
You always lose if you trade your cards or cash them in on a site. If you can't use them, try to regift them. Or, even better, use them to buy gifts for the people that gave them to you. You can get gifts for a birthday, anniversary, or other holiday.
Are any of the cards good online? Try using one or two that way. Your friend must have thought you'd like something!
Sheila (via Facebook)
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