Did you get a gift card as a present during the holidays? You are not alone -- according to research firm the Tower Group, Americans spent more than $90 billion on gift cards last year; that's billion – with a “B”. What is more surprising is that the Tower Group predicts that about $2.5 billion worth of gift cards will go unspent.
Do not let your gift card fall into that $2.5 billion pile. If you got a gift card, use it. There are many sales and coupons out there to help make your gift card money go farther. My daughter just used a Border’s gift card and benefited from a 50 percent off coupon.
If you got a gift card for a store you do not like, and you think you will not use that gift card, consider selling it. You can sell your unwanted gift cards as well as buy others on gift card trading websites. I have read positive reviews about plasticjungle.com, abcgiftcards.com and GiftCardGranny.com. You can also sell them on Craigslist.com, but the trading sites I mentioned provide you with protections that Craigslist does not. According to an article on Kiplingers.com, with these gift card trading sites, “you won't get the full value of your card (up to 92% at best)” – but at least you will get something, and the card will not go to waste.
Here are some more things to consider if you have a gift card:
1 – Know Your Rights: Last year consumers received increased protections on gift cards. Before the new law, gift card rules varied state to state; many states allowed expiration fees and other complicated terms that could make them challenging to use. New Federal Trade Commission rules went into effect in August 2010 that say that a gift card cannot expire for at least 5 years from the date it was purchased. However, you still may face inactivity fees though if you do not use the card for a year. See all the new rules at the FTC's website.
2) Know What’s In Your Wallet: These cards are like cash: if you lose it, you may be out of luck or you may pay a fee to replace it. So guard your gift card as you would guard your cash.
3) Know the Amount on Your Card – and spend it! You probably will not go back to use the funds you leave on that card, so try to spend the full amount.