Credit Card SwipeWith the holidays safely behind us, there’s a good chance that you now have a shiny, new pile of gift cards just waiting for you to spend them. Whether it’s a Best Buy card from your brother or that Macy’s card from your aunt, it’s time to start planning how you’re going to make the most your new gift cards. Even if that means you’re going to sell gift cards or do a gift card exchange, there are so many ways to make the most out of your cards. So if you have a pile of unspent gift cards laying around, here are some awesome money-saving tips and tricks from your friends at Ebates to help you maximize just how far those cards can go.

1. Don’t Lose Your Cards

It’s easy to plan all the awesome things that you’ll buy with your new gift cards, but once you get busy, it’s just as easy to tuck your cards aside and promptly forget your ideas – and where you stashed your gift cards. Even if that happens, protect your cards from disappearing by making sure that you register them or write down the redemption info. Be sure to keep your gift cards in a safe place, because while their small size makes them convenient for shopping, their slim profile means they are super easy to lose in a pile of papers on a messy desk. Keep your gift cards somewhere that’s both secure and memorable because they can be super safe, but they’re no good to you if you can’t remember where you stashed them! To the same end, don’t keep them in your wallet. It’s annoying to not have them if you are out shopping, but even more annoying to lose all that awesome already-paid-for value if your wallet goes missing while you’re out. Save yourself a headache and don’t put them in your wallet until you are ready to spend them, or better yet, spend them online! Gift cards are incredibly easy to use online from the comfort of your couch or bed and you can often find the best deals right from your computer.

Free Shipping2. Take Advantage of Sales and Free Shipping Offers

Just because you have free money to spend, that doesn’t mean you should skip shopping around for the best deals! Stretch your gift card budget as far as it will go by paying attention to sales and promotions online, whether you are redeeming a card from Ace Hardware online for those new tools you’ve been eyeing or cashing in a Kohl’s card for a new pair of jeans. Shopping online with your gift cards is a great way to do this because you can easily compare prices across vendors and take instant advantage of savings that you might not notice if you’re out wandering around a store.

3. Don’t Let Gift Cards Turn Into a Slippery Spending Slope

While gift cards may mean you can start shopping, it shouldn’t mean blowing your budget. A gift card can give you a chunk of change to spend at your favorite stores, but it’s easy to go way overboard. Use your gift card to help you get closer to the purchase price of those big ticket items you’ve been eyeballing. Just make sure you set a hard limit for just how far above the value of your gift card you can go without really breaking the bank.

4. Make the Most of the Cards You Won’t Use

We all get them – the gift cards that you just won’t ever use. Whether it’s for a store that clashes with your personal style or a restaurant you can’t stand, don’t just toss your unwanted gift cards. There are a number of places online that offer a gift card exchange. They will happily take your unwanted gift cards off your hands and either trade them out for cards you want or you can even just sell gift cards for cash. Super cool, right? If that still sounds like too much work, see if your friends want to have a post-holiday gift card swap. Who knows what goodies they may be looking to trade for your less-than-loved gift cards! Have another holiday event or birthday coming up? Gift cards are super easy to re-gift and come in especially handy when you need a last minute present.

Money Down the Drain5. Don’t Waste Their Value to Expiration Dates and Fees

Gift cards are an awesome way to shop at your favorite store or redeem for a fabulous movie night out via Fandango, but make sure you pay attention to any expiration dates or fees that the cards may have. It’s a shame to let any of that value go to waste when you could be out spending and having a ball! Check the back of gift cards or any paperwork that came with your cards to skim the fine print for the necessary details to figure out if you’re up against any expiration deadlines or if you’ll be hit with any maintenance fees in the future. Nothing like unexpected fees or an expiration date to dampen the gift card spending fun!

Now that we’ve shared these tips, you’re ready to head out and spend those gift cards like a pro. Enjoy!

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From the latest tech to the hottest fashions and everything in between, the editors at The Smart Shopper are in the know and ready share their expertise. Check out our posts on shopping secrets and product trends for those who live for a little retail therapy.
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