Are Discount Gift Cards Worth the Hassle?

Gift card exchange sites are places where you can buy and sell gift cards. If you’re unfamiliar with the gift card exchange craze, here’s the rundown of how you can benefit:

  • Selling – You can sell unused gift cards on these sites for cash or other gift cards. According to estimates published by Market Watch, $750 million in gift cards were expected to go unused in 2014. Before your card is one of many that go to waste, you can sell it and get your hands on some money instead.
  • Buying – Gift card exchanges also sell gift cards for less than their value. Say you want to buy an iTunes gift card for your cousin Joe’s birthday. You may be able to find an iTunes gift card with $100 on it that’s selling for $95 or a 5% discount.

There are quite a few gift card exchange websites you can use to find deals.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the popular gift card exchange sites to compare savings and how each one works. We’ll also dig into the major gift card search engine, Gift Card Granny, to review the process of using it to shop for and sell gift cards.

Lastly, we’ll give you our take on whether or not the deals you can get from buying and selling cards are worth your time.

Buying and Selling Gift Cards

The how-to process of buying and selling gift cards is pretty similar for each gift card exchange site so we’ve broken down what you need to know in the following two sections.

Buying gift cards

Most sites allow you to buy both e-cards and physical gift cards. E-cards are delivered to you by email after purchase. Physical gift cards can take from several days to over a week to get to you through snail mail.

A factor that can make shopping for gift cards tedious is finding a site that has the card inventory that you need. Gift card availability varies from seller to seller. Some sites have loads of cards you can buy, and others have very few on sale from restaurants and stores you may never visit.

One very important to thing to mention before we compare savings is that customers have complained about buying cards from popular gift card sellers that didn’t work or had no money on them when they arrived. This is why gift card exchanges have money-back guarantee policies.

If you buy gift cards, you must choose an exchange site that has a money-back guarantee that lasts at least several weeks. This way you have enough time to receive the card, test the card, and request a refund if it doesn’t work. We’ve included the guarantee period in our savings comparison below.

How gift card discounts compare from site to site

For our shopping example, we want to buy a Macy’s gift card and we want the card to have as close to $50 on it as possible because it’s for a gift.

We searched for deals on CardCash/ABC Gift Cards, Cardpool, GiftCardBin, Giftcard Zen, and Raise because each of these six exchanges has no fees, a money-back guarantee, a variety of cards for sale, and a user-friendly website.

Here’s what we found:

Gift-Card-Purchasing

*CardCash and ABC Gift Cards are the same company but can offer different savings rates on gift cards. For Macy’s the savings happens to be the same.

ABC Gift Cards and CardCash take the cake for the best percentage off discount in this example at 13.25% savings.

But GiftCardBin gives you a Macy’s gift card with exactly $50 on it. The person receiving the gift will probably be more appreciative of getting a full $50 on the card than $43.90 (unless it’s a gag gift).

Overall, in this example we can get between 5% to 13% off of our Macy’s gift card.

Savings will vary depending on the type of card you’re looking for. Even the inventory and discount can change for Macy’s cards from day to day, but this gives you an idea of what’s offered.

Selling gift cards

Now let’s move on to selling those gift cards you have piled up from Christmas and your birthday.

Some exchange sites will take both e-cards and physical cards. For sites that will take e-cards off your hands, you type in the e-code that’s on the e-card to go through with the transaction. The company will give you a free shipping label to send in physical cards.

How deals for gift card sellers compare from site to site

Let’s say you’re sitting on a $50 Macy’s gift card and you don’t intend to shop at that store.

We searched for trade deals from CardCash/ABC Gift Cards, Cardpool, GiftCardBin, and Raise.

Here’s what you can get for a Macy’s card:

Gift-Card-Selling

As you can see, the most value is given when you trade a gift card for another gift card.

At a quick glance, Raise appears to give you the most cash back for the trade, but you have to factor in the listing fee and whether someone will buy the card for that asking price.

You may notice Giftcard Zen doesn’t make our list for places to sell your Macy’s card when it made our list for places to buy a Macy’s card.

We went to Giftcard Zen to see what the site offers for a card trade and found the company is not currently accepting cards from Macy’s. Again, inventory and what a site will accept is ever changing.

This is where Gift Card Granny comes into the picture and tries to make your life easier.

Instead of having to search each and every gift card site for deals, Gift Card Granny is where you can compare buying and selling opportunities in one place.

Gift Card Granny — The Gift Card Exchange Aggregate

If you want to search a number of gift card exchange websites all at once, Gift Card Granny is a great source. The shopping experience on Gift Card Granny is like shopping for hotels and flights on Kayak.

You type in the gift card you’re looking to buy or sell, and the Gift Card Granny search engine pulls up deals from various gift card sites, including sites we mentioned above.

We went through a scenario with Gift Card Granny to weigh in on the recommended deals. Here’s what we found.

Finding places to buy cards using Gift Card Granny

Let’s go back to our initial scenario where we were buying our cousin Joe an iTunes gift card for his birthday.

Gift Card Granny came up with a bunch of options after we typed iTunes into the search bar.

gcg-options-iphone

We clicked on Card Kangaroo first since the check mark means it’s a Gift Card Granny Premier Partner. After getting redirected to the Card Kangaroo site, we discovered that there are no iTunes gift cards available even though the deal is listed on Gift Card Granny. It may be because Gift Card Granny has a lag in inventory updates.

This doesn’t come as a complete shock since Card Kangaroo was left off of our roundup from above for having a pretty slim gift card stock for buyers.

itunes-giftcards

So we decided to dig into two more options, GiftMe and Gift Card Spread. GiftMe has the highest savings percentage on the list, and Gift Card Spread is another Gift Card Granny Premier Partner.

GiftMe turns out to be an app that you need to download to your phone first before you can buy and sell your cards. We downloaded the app and found that there is indeed a $100 iTunes gift card available for $88.52.

GiftMe-App

To buy a card on GiftMe, you have to fill out your name and address. You also have to take a photo of the front and back of your credit card to be verified before purchase.

According to the app FAQ page, GiftMe will delete the photo after verification, and the app is PCI compliant. PCI is a security standard for transmitting credit card data, but to err on the side of caution, you probably shouldn’t be sending photos of your credit card to anyone.

That leaves the third and final top savings option that we looked into, Gift Card Spread. Gift Card Spread has iTunes gift card inventory for a little over 10% savings.

Gift-card-spread

You need to sign up for an account to buy a card from Gift Card Spread. In some cases, you may have to verify yourself as the credit card holder before purchasing by answering questions or going on a three-way call with the company and your credit card issuer.

Based on this experience shopping on Gift Card Granny, you’ll probably have to click around through several deals before you find a gift card seller that has the right stock and that doesn’t have a buying process that’s asking for too much of your personal information.

The exchanges we listed in our large roundup above appear on Gift Card Granny but not as one of the top savings options.

Finding places to sell cards using Gift Card Granny

Gift Card Granny will tell you the offers available for the type of card you want to sell.

The options will include places where you can sell your card instantly and others where you have to list your card for sale until someone buys it, such as Raise (we talked about Raise above) and eBay.

gcg-giftcard-sell

Be careful when selling cards on eBay because scams are rampant. You can even take a peek at the eBay community discussions here and here where someone shamelessly explains how they’ve scammed sellers out of gift cards.

A common way buyers seem to scam sellers is by asking for the serial number of a gift card to “confirm the amount” and then draining the card before paying. Scammers may also receive the card and then, to get a refund, complain to eBay that they never got it.

The bottom line is, proceed with caution when selling gift cards on eBay. It may be best to avoid the risk entirely.

Overall when it comes to buying and selling gift cards, Gift Card Granny does make it easier to compare options head-to-head even though you have to do some detective work to find good deals.

Gift Card Exchanges: A Much Better Deal for Buyers than Sellers

An honest opinion about the gift card buying process is that going through tedious sign-up forms and verifications for minimal savings (i.e., a $1.50 discount on a $15 iTunes gift card) may not be a good use of your time. Companies don’t want to get burned in the transaction, so they take extra precautions to confirm that your form of payment will work before releasing a gift card to you.

It’s an entirely different story if you can get something like 20% off of a $200 iTunes gift card. The $20 savings could be well worth the wait but only if the verification process is secure. Taking photos of your credit card or ID is still a little much even for $20.

As for the selling aspect, be aware again that this isn’t quick money (unless the site you exchange with has physical locations). The exchange website will need to confirm your gift card balance, which can take several business days, before they’re willing to send you cash or another card of your choosing.

The post Are Discount Gift Cards Worth the Hassle? appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

4 Ways to Get Max Value From Discover Cash Back Rewards

Discover has a generous and flexible cash-back program. Here's how you can make the most of it.

There are a lot of cash back rewards programs out there so it’s important to compare them and have a full understanding of what they each offer to make sure you find the one that is right for you.

With that in mind, we thought we’d break down what the Discover Cash Back Rewards program entails, give you some insights into a few ways to use the Discover cash back program so you get the most for your rewards and mention some of the cards that offer this rewards program. (Comparing cards and looking for more rewards program breakdowns? You can see six hacks for using the Citi ThankYou points program here.)

1. Cash or Statement Credit

Redeeming for cash or a statement credit is one of the easiest ways to get value through the Discover cash back program. There is no threshold for how much you have to earn before you cash out. Meaning, if you’ve only earned $5, you can cash out for $5 or you can wait until you have $100. You can apply the funds to your next statement, or transfer them to a bank account of your choice.

2. Gift Cards

One of the more interesting ways to use your cash back rewards from Discover is to receive gift cards. These gift cards can be from retail establishments, restaurants and gas stations. But what makes this an interesting option is that you receive $5 added to each gift card for free. While you might redeem $40 in cash back rewards, you could receive a gift card worth $45. Most of the gift cards come in the form of a physical card, which means you could have to wait up to 10 days before your card arrives. However, you can also receive eCertificates. These can be downloaded to your computer or on the Discover mobile app and used immediately.

3. Pay With Points

Discover has a relationship with Amazon that allows consumers to make purchases on Amazon.com and use their cash back to help cover the cost. It’s important to note that there is no value added when using your cash back on Amazon. One dollar in cash back equals one dollar on Amazon. Because of this, it may make more sense to pay for your Amazon purchase with a credit card, earn the additional rewards and then apply a statement credit toward the expense.

Earlier this year, Discover also announced an agreement with PayPal allowing cardholders to use cash back rewards on any purchase where PayPal is used. While this option has not gone live as of post time, it is expected to work the same way as the Amazon partnership.

4. Donate to Charity

While you will not earn anything extra, value wise, here, you have the option to help others and donate your cash back rewards to charity. Partners include the American Cancer Society, World Wildlife Fund and the American Red Cross. This can be a good option if you’re looking to donate money to one of these charities anyway, or if you’re simply in the giving spirit.

Earning Discover Cash Back Rewards

There a few cards that let you earn Discover cash back rewards. Let’s take a look at some of them. (Note: Most of the cards listed below require decent credit to qualify. Before you apply, you can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com so you can get an idea of if you’ll be eligible for the card you’re considering or not.)

Discover it Card

Anyone looking for a generous cash back card, without an annual fee, may want to have the Discover it card on their list of considerations. With this card, you can earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter. One quarter it might be at gas stations and movie theaters, and the next it might be restaurants and groceries stores. There is a limit of $1,500 in purchases each quarter that earn 5% back. All other purchases made with the card receive 1% back. Plus, Discover matches everything you earn with this card for the first 12 billing cycles. That means if you earn $200 in cash back rewards, you actually receive $400. This card comes with an introductory 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. Afterward, the APR rises to a variable 11.49% to 23.49%.

Discover it Chrome Gas & Restaurant Card

If a lot of your monthly spending is focused on gas and restaurants, then the no-annual-fee Discover it Chrome Gas and Restaurants card could be a good option. With this card, you earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 each quarter on combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants. All other purchase made receive 1% back. Just like the Discover it card, Discover matches all your earnings during the first year as a cardholder. This card also offers an introductory 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. Afterward, the APR becomes a variable 11.49% to 23.49%.

Discover it Student Card

The Discover it Student card works a lot like the standard Discover it card. You earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter. Plus, all other purchases earn 1% back, with Discover matching your earnings during the first year. With this card, students get rewarded for earning good grades. Each year you earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you receive a $20 bonus cash back reward. This card comes with no annual fee and has an introductory 0% APR for six months on purchases. After the introductory period, the APR becomes a variable 13.49% to 22.49%.

Discover it Secured Card

If you’re attempting to rebuild your credit, or are new to the world of credit entirely, the Discover it Secured card might be an option worth considering. This card is a little different than most secured cards because it allows you to earn cash back while you build a better credit history. You earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations each quarter. All other purchases earn 1% back. Plus, like all other Discover cards, Discover matches your earnings the first year. There is no annual fee for this card. The APR is a variable 23.49%. (You can learn more about secured credit cards here.)

Image: PeopleImages

At publishing time, the Discover it, Discover it Chrome, Discover it Student Card and Discover it Secured Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

The post 4 Ways to Get Max Value From Discover Cash Back Rewards appeared first on Credit.com.

iTunes Gift Card Scams Are Flourishing

itunes-gift-card-scam

iTunes gift cards have become a common tool for online scammers to wring money out of victims, according to new warnings from Apple and U.S. federal authorities.

One agency received a deluge of complaints during a recent weekend, including word from one victim who lost $31,000 in a recent iTunes payment scam, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The agency said the problem has grown so bad that Apple recently posted a notice on its gift card page:

“iTunes Gift Cards are solely for the purchase of goods and services on the iTunes Store and App Store. Should you receive a request for payment using iTunes Gift Cards outside of iTunes and the App Store please report it at ftc.gov/complaint.”

Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.

Criminals convince victims to buy iTunes gift cards, either online or in a store, and then email the secret code so the value can be drained — or traded.

“As soon as you put money on a card and share the code with (scammers), the money’s gone for good,” the FTC warned in a blog post.

Karen S. Hobbs, an attorney with Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said scammers like iTunes gift cards because they are “cash-like” in a few critical ways. It’s pretty hard to reverse an iTunes payment — unlike a credit card payment — and movement of iTunes dollars can be virtually untraceable. (See more reasons consumers fall for scams here.)

With any fraud scheme — from sweetheart scams to fake IRS tax bill scams — a criminal’s biggest challenge is getting paid. Wire service payments are their preferring method, because wire payments are generally impossible to reverse. But apparently consumers are slowly heeding warnings about wire services, leading criminals to turn to other payment methods.

iTunes gift cards aren’t the only alternate money system scammers have adopted. The FTC warns that they are using Amazon gift cards, PayPal, reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit and Vanilla, too.

Of course, criminals aren’t using the iTunes gift cards to feed their voracious appetite for music. They sell the cards on thriving gift card black markets, where iTunes cards — all cards, really – can sell for pennies on the dollar. Still, that gives criminals a great way to receive funds from victims and quickly cash them out.

“I think most people are surprised about the black market for iTunes cards,” Hobbs said.

It seems a bit far-fetched that consumers would believe the IRS, or any government agency, would ask for payment via iTunes “bucks.” But clearly, people are falling for the tactic.

“In some cases, (criminals) stay on the phone (with victims) while they go to the store and buy the gift cards, talk them through it,” Hobbs said.

The trend is international, too. Here’s a story about a similar tactic working in the United Kingdom: a criminal tricks a victim into believing she has a big tax bill that must be paid immediately.

“One victim is revealed to have purchased over 15 iTunes gift cards from Argos – each one valued at £100 – and handing over the codes to scammers on the phone. Another victim shelled out an incredible £15,000 on iTunes gift cards after receiving a cold call, the codes for which went straight to criminals,” TrustedReviews.com wrote on Friday.

One reason these scams might be working: Apple and iTunes are both recognizable brands, and criminals may be borrowing a bit of their “halo effect” to gain credibility.

So the big message the agency is trying to deliver is simple: “If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you shouldn’t be paying with an iTunes gift card,” the FTC says.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: AnthonyRosenberg

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Man Allegedly Uses Stolen Credit Cards to Buy $9K in Chick-fil-A Gift Cards

chick-fil-a

That’s one way to EAT MOR CHIKIN.

A man in Texas allegedly stole credit cards to stock up on a near-unlimited supply of chicken nuggets and waffle fries, purchasing a total of $9,000 worth of Chick-fil-A gift cards over the span of two days.

Police in Austin, Texas, arrested David Ricketts, 26, on May 6 after employees called and reported a man they believed was using stolen credit cards.

According to reports, Ricketts attempted to use multiple credit cards that day to buy about $2,000 worth of gift cards. Investigators also later found he’d purchased $7,000 in gift cards from the same restaurant two days before.

So how much chicken would $9,000 buy at Chick-fil-A? Even if Ricketts were to purchase the large version of every item on the menu, plus each kid’s meal, he’d still have about $8,750 left to spend, or enough for 35 more visits making that same full menu purchase.

Ricketts probably won’t get his Chick-fil-A fix any time soon, though. He is currently being held on a $15,000 bond and faces forgery and credit card abuse charges. After this incident, Chick-fil-A will require all customers to show ID if they want to purchase gift cards with a credit or debit card.

In today’s digital age, identity thieves don’t need a physical credit card to go shopping. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your credit card statements for anything strange — like gift certificate charges at Chick-fil-A. (You can also view your free credit report once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com and see two of your credit scores for free, updated monthly, on Credit.com.)

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: plherrera

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There’s a Website That Will Break Up With Someone for You

break up with someone

A new service called The Breakup Shop aims to help non-confrontational people dump whoever they’re dating. For as little as $10, they can get the job done by text or email, replacing a task nearly everyone does for free currently.

Like Cards Against Humanity’s Black Friday prank, in which people paid $5 to literally get nothing, The Breakup Shop proves there’s a market for everything.

Of course, value depends on what your time is worth. You could agonize over a breakup, so outsourcing may be more efficient. Or perhaps you’re thinking, “I can do this for free!” even though DIY projects rarely turn out the way you want. “Let us handle the messy work of the breakup, so you can spend more time swiping right,” the company says, referencing the dating app Tinder. You’re busy, and a failing relationship is a poor investment!

But why invest in something that’s losing its value? The Breakup Shop sells gift cards for a steady supply of streaming at $40 and up, packages of Chips Ahoy cookies for $6, and poo-scented breakup cards for $10. There are even nearly $100 gift packs that come with a vessel—called the Memory Oven—for dumpees to burn mementos.

If you want to break up in a more frugal way, you can take the ghosting route like Charlize Theron. There’s a conflict-avoiding option for every budget—you just have to find it.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Design Pics

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