m a k e   ' e m   s m i l e   : )
Monday 11.18.2013

A Tale of Three Gift Cards

In my previous article, I shared a story about receiving a couple of gift cards from various retailers, and a Visa® gift card from my Great Aunt.  I also shared details about gift card rules known as “The Card Act,” that came into effect on August 22, 2010, to protect consumers from excessive gift card fees and charges. Well, now it is time to go spend these gift cards and have some fun!

 My Visa Gift Card

My Visa gift card was very cool because it actually had a personalized picture from a visit with my Great Aunt at her lake cottage, during the summer. Because of this, I will keep this card instead of throwing it away after I spend the money. This Visa gift card is known in the industry as an “open loop” gift card, because it can be redeemed almost anywhere I want to shop, including online or over the telephone. I like the freedom of choice. This gift card should be easy to spend.

The sticker on the card told me to activate the card by calling the toll-free number listed. The activation was easy. In addition, I confirmed the balance on the card and received helpful hints on the card usage, like telling the cashier to only charge the Visa gift card for the amount that is actually on the card. Well, my first purchase was from Dick’s Sporting Goods for a couple of boxes of my favorite golf balls for $38.50, including tax. That meant that I should have $11.50 left on the gift card. I called the toll-free number and confirmed that the card balance was indeed $11.50.

Next, I stopped at Abercrombie & Fitch to purchase a new pair of jeans. The jeans were $48.00. As instructed, I told the cashier that my Visa gift card only had $11.50 on it, so to charge that amount, and I would pay the remaining balance with cash. The cashier rang up the transaction, swiped the card, and told me the balance that I owed in cash to complete the purchase.

Just to be sure, I checked the balance via the toll-free number, and it confirmed the remaining balance of $0. My Visa gift was easy to use, and the picture on the card made it a really cool gift.


My Retail Store Gift Cards

I also received $50 retail store gift cards from Best Buy, TGI Friday’s, and Bass Pro Shops. These gift cards are known in the industry as “closed loop” gift cards because they must be redeemed at those stores. The buyer of closed loop gift cards needs to know the recipient well enough to choose specific stores he likes to shop, or restaurants at which she likes to eat. I do like Best Buy and Friday’s, but I’m not a Bass Pro Shops shopper at all.

Using the Best Buy and Friday’s gift cards was easy, and only required scratching off the PIN from the back of the card. These cards also provided a toll-free number to call to get the balance left on the card. I did not have to worry about calling that number for my Best Buy gift card, since I spent over $50 on the first trip. That purchase was easy—the cashier knew how much was on the gift card and then charged the balance on my debit card.  After all that shopping, we were hungry and decided to go to Friday’s.  I used $31.12 of my Friday’s gift card for lunch. I guess I will have to keep that Friday’s card with me to make sure I use it when I go back to Friday’s some day in the future. I hate to keep those cards in my wallet because it just makes your wallet fat.

Now I need to figure out what to do with that Bass Pro Shops gift card. If I sell the card online, I will get less than the value of the card, but that is better than putting the card in my drawer and forgetting about it or never using it.


My Unwanted Retail Store Gift Card

After doing a search on the internet, I see there are a few different web sites that purchase unwanted gift cards. I guess I will have to go to various sites, and see who will give me the best price for my gift card. I chose to go to www.swapagift.com first to see what I could learn about selling this Bass Pro Shops gift card. I found that it is super easy to use the website, and I also learned a lot about selling my gift card.

Swapagift.com said that it is the world’s first and largest discounted gift card exchange. Since 2003, they have provided an outlet for customers who want to sell gift cards for cash.  I could actually go to a Swapagift.com partner location, like a check-cashing store in my neighborhood, and walk in with my unwanted Bass Pro Shops gift card to get cash instantly. As an alternative, if I do not want to drive to a store, I could go to their sister company GiftCards.com, to sell my unwanted Bass Pro Shops gift card online. I also found out that I could buy a gift card or code at a discount. They advertised that they have discounted gift cards for hundreds of popular brands including Best Buy, where I was just shopping.   Looks like I could have saved up to 30% off.

I guess I will visit a couple other web sites, and see who offers the best price for my Bass Pro Shops gift card. In addition, I am coming back to these sites to check out these discounted gift cards too.


My Shopping Trip and Gift Card Experience

Well, it was sure fun using my Visa gift card, and the gift card was easy, too. The same goes for the Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card, and the Friday’s gift card. I just hope I remember to pull that Friday’s gift card out the next time I am at Friday’s. But, selling this Bass Pro Shops gift card has opened up a whole new area for me to explore. I guess there will be a Part IV to my gift card experience, after all.


~~ Doug Blasiman, Former CFO of GiftCards.com


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