Buying Discounted Gift Cards

Sep 1, 2009

As you all know by now, I do my “darndest” – nearly always – to find items we need either on Craigslist or Ebay or at garage sales or by using coupons. But sometimes, even I (the crazy bargain chic) cannot find a less expensive way to purchase what I need.

Nevertheless, I persevere and do not give up! There is nearly always a way to get something for less. You just need to be creative. And, I’m going to let you in one a “secret” strategy I have used in the past.

I buy discounted gift cards online.

Okay, I better slow down and backtrack. Let me explain.

Last year, before our third child arrived, we had to do a little rearranging of our house to make room for this new “bundle of joy.” Without getting into all the details, we sold all of our bedroom furniture (on Craigslist, for about what I paid for it 12 years earlier – though, that’s not the story). Anyway, I needed to buy new nightstands for our room and I wanted them to be black. You would not believe how hard it is to find black nightstands! I looked on Craigslist for months. I occasionally found one for sale, but never two. Target and Walmart had some but they were too small and not very nice. I finally found some I loved at the store Rooms To Go. But, they were expensive – at least by my standards. They each cost $250. I didn’t really want to spend $500 on two nightstands, but I couldn’t find a way to spend any less.

And then, I got an idea. I went on Craigslist and searched for Rooms To Go gift cards. I found one for sale. It was a $50 gift card that someone was selling for $30. (Sometimes, people are given gift cards as a gift that they do not want to use.) I bought it. And then, I went on Ebay and found a $500 gift card that was being sold for $400. I bought that one, too.

So, for $430 I received $550 worth of gift cards for Rooms to Go. With that money, I purchased the nightstands, with tax, and had enough left over for a nice vase from the store - saving myself about a $100.

But, before I end this posting, I need to give you some words of advice if you ever choose to do something like this.

When you buy on Ebay, it’s always best if you pay through Paypal, because that allows you some protection against a Seller trying to rip you off. In addition, always makes sure to check that the Seller has a 100% satisfaction rating (or close to it) with many sales behind him or her.

When you are buying on Craigslist, if you meet the person somewhere, have your cell phone with you. Before you pay for the card, call the number on the back that allows you to check the balance. Make sure the gift card has the correct amount on it. Or, you can always meet them at the gift card’s “store” and go inside to check the balance there.

If you are super paranoid (because, in all honesty, the seller CAN write down the number to the card, sell it to you and then an hour later, go online and buy something with that number), you should go straight to the store and either buy your item right away OR, if you’re not ready to buy the item just yet, buy something else and return it right away. This way, the store will give you store credit that will have a different number than the gift card and the Seller will no longer have the information.

I have never had a problem with dishonest Sellers when I buy gift cards, but I’m sure they are out there, so just be cautious.

Then, when you have the gift card(s), saving yourself some money, try to combine your purchase at the store with a sale or promotion they may be running. You can save yourself a bundle that way!

Good luck and happy Gift Card shopping!

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