It’s Christmas time and there are plenty of gifts flying around. Stores are full, online shops have heavy traps and lots of money changes owners!
Gift cards are a very popular gift item – they are easy, quick to buy, saves the trouble of duplicate gifts and can be mailed, emailed or handed over in a jiffy. They seem very useful if you cannot decide what to buy.
However note some statistics from an Astralian study about gift cards:
1. 20% of gift cards are never used
2. 50% of gift cards are not fully used by the time they expire
3. There’s about 1.5 billion in gift cards spent every year – that means at least 300 million dollard of customers money is wasted!
So here are tips when you choose gift cards or when you receive them to ensure you make the best use from them.
1. Choose a gift card that can be used in many stores: This allows the recepient to spend on a wider range of products and also does not need to hunt for a particular store. So while a ToysRUs card will seem cute, a Coles gift card that can be used in KMart, Target, COles and more can give the person access to more products. Woolworths Wish Card too has a lot of store in which it can be used. A prepaid Visa Card can also be very useful.
It’s worthwhile doing a little research to ensure that the person who you are gifting it to has easy access to a store or shop.
2. Check the expiry date: Check, double check and triple check about when the card expires. Make sure this is written down on the card as this ensures the recepient does not forget this date. The best bet is to get a card that does not expire at all – but most stores are smart enough and have only expirable cards.
3. Check for hidden charges: Is there a minimum spend amount per transaction? Is there a maximum number of transactions allowed on one card? Are there charges on the card?
4. Check the terms: Are there specific products excluded? Are products on sale allowed? Can they be used for offers? How are returns of products bought on the card handled?
5. Activate the card: Most of the time this is not a problem, but ensure that the card is active when you gift it (or receive it)
6. Track your balance: Some cards allow this to be done online while others allow this to be done only at the store or after a transaction. Find out before you start spending – or keep track with a pen and paper!
7. Keep it safe: Treat the card like cash and never lose it. If you lose it there will be no refunds. It’s gone!
8. Buy them cheap: Can you get a 100$ gift card for 95 dollars? Yes! Scour the web for such deals. Sites like Infinite Rewards allow this genuinely. Don’t forget to check the cost of mailing these cards! There are also sites like ebay etc where you can pick up gift cards, but then there is the risk of getting scammed. Try it if you are the adventurous type! Some sites allow you to swap cards between members. All these are last resorts though!
That’s all for the tips I know. Enjoy shopping this season and make sure you get the best from Gift Cards. It would be a pity if all that money just went into the pockets of the stores leaving you empty handed!