Buying and sending gift cards and gift certificates online is very popular. Digital gift certificates can be sent via email and provide quite convenient gifting opportunities for both the sender and the recipient. Furthermore, emailing gift certificates make them easy and extremely quick last minute gifts.
With these thoughts in mind, there are a few things online shoppers should note about buying gift cards and gift certificates online. I offer the following five tips to enjoy the best deals on gift cards and gift certificates and avoid a few pitfalls.
1. Buy gift cards/gift certificates when they are on sale.
Yes, that’s right, gift cards and electronic gift certificates are sometimes put on sale. For example, sometimes you can buy a gift card or gift certificate for less than its face value. Other times you can use a special coupon code for a better deal or a bonus value on gift cards and gift certificates. Please note, though, that unless specified otherwise, gift cards are generally excluded from online coupon code discounts.
2. Buy gift cards/gift certificates when they are offered as a bonus.
Many online retailers sweeten the deal by offering a free gift card or gift certificate as part of a larger order. For example, sometimes all product orders of more than $100 receive a special $10 or $20 gift card bonus. Sales like this are more common around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays but can also be found for other gifting times like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Additionally, online shoppers can occasionally receive a bonus gift card or gift certificate when purchasing a gift card online of a certain value — an example would be to receive a $10 gift card for yourself when emailing someone a $100 gift certificate.
3. Buy unwanted store gift cards/gift certificates at a discount.
Some online retailers specialize in buying unwanted gift cards from consumers and reselling them to other consumers at a discount. Usually the retailer’s stock of “resell” gift cards are bought individually from consumers at 60-70% of their face value and then sold to other consumers for 80-90% of their value. The gift card reseller pockets the difference for providing such a gift card marketplace. Several leading retailers in this space are GiftCards.com, CardCash, and Gift Card Mall.
A word of caution: One should always be careful when buying gift cards and gift certificates from any source other than the original issuing merchant. Gift card resellers range from ethical to scammers so beware. While successful transactions may occur at popular auction sites like eBay and gift card brokers like GiftCards.com, that does not mean all online transactions are honest and smooth. Be sure to review the seller’s reputation and terms of the sale and make sure you are comfortable with the sale before proceeding.
4. Convert credit card points and airline miles into gift cards/gift certificates.
Don’t forget to check out your airline frequent flier miles and credit card points to see if you can exchange them for some popular merchant gift cards. Often it is easy to convert $40 or $45 worth of points or miles into a $50 gift card so watch out for those great bonus opportunities.
5. Browse our gift cards/gift certificates section for the latest savings.
To make it easier for online shoppers to buy and send gift cards and to find gift card and gift certificate deals of all kinds, we created a special Gift Cards & Gift Certificates section. There online shoppers can sort an extensive selection of links to merchants selling their own gift cards and gift certificates online. We also provide information on available gift card bonuses and other gift certificate savings opportunities.
Editor’s Note: Updated on 13-Dec-2011 and 23-Oct-2015 to correct broken links and edit gift card marketplaces.