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Make the Most of Gift Cards

Since 2007, gift cards have been the most requested holiday gifts. You probably received at least one gift card during this holiday season. And what’s not to love about gift cards? They give us the chance to shop, dine out, or enjoy activities guilt free, whenever we wish. But surprisingly, more than $2 billion dollars’ worth of gift cards went unused in 2012. Don’t let your gift cards fall into that statistic. Here are some tips to make the most of your gift cards throughout the year.

Keep it Close


A gift card won’t do you any good sitting in a drawer or filing cabinet. Place it in your wallet immediately when you receive it so you have it with you when you need it. But remember, gift cards should be treated like cash and aren’t replaceable if lost or stolen, so keep them secure.

Know the Terms

Fees and terms of use vary widely among gift cards. Some cards are assessed a fee for non-use after a period of 12 months. A few months of these fees can quickly diminish or eliminate a gift card’s balance. If you’re not sure of the card’s terms, it’s best to use it right away.

Sell or Trade

So you got a gift card for the best steakhouse in town but you’re a vegan – what to do? Sell or trade it for a card you’ll actually use. You can do it informally by trading cards with a friend, co-worker or family member. Or sell gift cards you won’t use to a site like Gift Card Granny for up to 93% of the face value. Granted, you’ll lose a few dollars, but it’s better to have the cash than let the card go to waste.

Keep Track of the Balance

If you don’t use the gift card’s full amount in one go, keep track of the balance. You can always check the balance over the phone or online. But the easiest way is to simply wrap the receipt listing the remaining balance around the card and keep them together in your wallet.