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January 06, 2010

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My approach is to spend/toss all such cards ASAP.

Gift cards (and those ubiq 20% off cards) for Macy's, Bed and Bath and Beyond, lousy restaurants, and other places I don't usually go----I throw them away (because you can't give them away).

Gift cards for Target and places I do shop regularly (or Visa gift cards, I suppose, I've never gotten any of those)--I put them in my wallet on top of my credit card. I use that credit cart for regular spending, so I'll see the gift card and use it the next time I'm buying anything/at that store.

If it's a gift card for something online (itunes etc), I log on and spend it immediately, so I can write a thank you note to the person who gave it to me that says what I got with it.

I try to use them ASAP and hate keeping them around..... The only problem is I don't like carrying them in my wallet because it fattens it up and if I ever loose it, someone will make out even more!

@MC
Why can't you give away the Macy's and the Bed, Bath and Beyond cards? No one wants them? Or is it against rules of some sort?

I've seen all sorts of them being sold on Ebay and the Plastic Jungle, especially Bed, Bath and Beyond. Or I'll give you my address...I love Bed, Bath and Beyond since that's where everybody around here registers for presents. :-)

We love getting gift cards. We immediately categorize them as "for us" (Amazon, Target, Walmart, Kohl's, Half Price Books, food, etc), "for a gift" (Starbucks, Academy, etc), or "for Ebay" (Macy's or Foley's would be in this category, but we don't usually get any).

We keep all of the ones we will use by our key/cell basket so we can grab them on our way out...they usually help us keep down our expenses in January and February since we get a bunch at Christmas.

So far, the only gift cards that we've ever gotten that have had any amount wasted was $2.16 left on a Foley's card 6 years ago and $15 on a Cracker Barrel card 10 years ago. I seem to be able to keep up with them without any problems. We use them pretty quickly or regift them on birthdays. I haven't needed to sell any for years.

We really do like gift cards...they usually allow us a bit of fun along with regular purchases.

My favorite comedian, Gaffigan, has a bit he does about getting gifts you have to return. He says something like, what you are giving me an errand, no thanks, not interested, you can keep it.

That generally sums up my feeling about most gift cards. Gifting in our country of affluence is a bit of a joke, especially among adults. It's fine for the kids but why do adults (siblings, friends, etc) give each other gifts? Hardly anyone needs anything. We don't even know what to get each other anymore cause we have already purchased everything we want on our credit cards and so we ask people for lists of what they want (which is another errand, come up with a list of things I want so you can buy them for me and you come up with a list of things you want so I can buy them for you.) Increasingly we are just giving up and trading cash but that is so cold so we trade gift cards which is just a less useful version of trading cash.

Thanks for the headache. Bah hum bug! :)

I love exchanging gifts..."real" gifts. It's awesome to give something that the other person really does like or appreciate but never would buy themselves (like the key board I got for my husband).

But gift cards are great for people you just don't know very well, like my husband's cousin and his wife. Even though we don't know them well, we sometimes draw their names in the Secret Santa...gift cards to Best Buy or Gamestop always are accepted with a smile from them since those are their favorite two stores for entertainment and electronics. My biological father never really went out of his way to get to know me, but he feels obligated to send something. I appreciate the Amazon.com gift certificates...I really can buy smething I'd really like. Cards are also fun stocking stuffers, like the fast food cards that my husband's parents put in our stockings (we put lotto scratch offs in theirs).

If you know a person well, I truly do think a gift from the heart is much better than a gift card. But I also appreciate that option in many scenarios...just don't get them a card to Macy's. ;-)

Among other ideas, my fav thing to do with those little ones with 4 to 6 bucks left on them is to apply them to recurring montly bills like a cell phone.

I love Evan's idea about applying the value of cash cards to monthly bills. I got a cash card worth $13.26 from my county's court system to reimburse me for mileage when I testified in a court case. It has been a hassle to try to use up because it isn't accepted everywhere. I tried using it to buy lunch a few times, but it didn't work. I'll try Evan's idea.

As far as traditional gift cards go, my wife keeps them in a specific place and we look them over whenever we're going shopping or out to dinner to see if we can use them.

Apex...

Have your read "Scroogenomics"? The subtitle is "Why You Shouldn't Buy Gifts for the Holidays"

CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on the book at:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6001373n&tag=cbsnewsVideoArea.0

Right up you alley!

I used my gift cards right away for regular purchases. Then I took the balance, which in my case was $100 and transferred it to savings right away. Now if I need the money for something later, I can use it or save it. Sure beats keeping those cards around and waiting for the fees to start.

Use them right away or sell on plasticjungle.com if you really can't find a use for them. Also, use them to buy basic essentials if it's not somewhere you normally shop like towels, socks, placemats, etc. Hard to believe you can really find NOTHING to buy.

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