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Monday, September 12, 2022

Your Thoughts on Gift Cards

Are you like me and have a whole slew of gift cards that have not been used, or do you like to use them as they come in? How do you feel about receiving gift cards as a gift? Are there types of gift cards you prefer over others?

Gift cards are a double-edged sword to me. On the one hand, I appreciate having some spending money to use. On the other hand, I feel guilty when I don't use them.

I have a bunch of GC for a variety of merchants. I have restaurant cards, bookstore cards, multi-purpose online vendor cards, fabric/craft store cards, clothing store cards, thrift store cards, specialty store cards, everything I could imagine. I don't have personal spending money aside from the ad revenue on this site (which covers my cell phone service each month), so I do really appreciate when someone gives me a gift card. Gift cards give me the freedom to spend some money without actually spending money.

Do you keep all of your gift cards in one spot? How do you track digital gift cards?

I keep all of my plastic cards corralled together and I go through them periodically to see if I could pay for an experience or needed item without having to take money out of the family budget. Digital gift cards complicate my GC storage system. The best I've been able to do is keep a list in the notepad on my laptop. But I try to prioritize using the digital cards before the plastic ones, so I don't forget to use them.

Are you practical with gift card use or do you see them as an opportunity for a splurge?

I tend to be practical with my gift card use, but do splurge a little. For experiences or items that others might ordinarily pay out of pocket, I use one of my gift cards. An example, back in 2019, my husband and I took our grown kids out to lunch for a joint celebration of my husband's and my birthdays (1 week apart). We used a gift card to a restaurant given to me as a birthday gift by my stepmom a couple of years prior to cover the cost of all of our meals and the tip. This was a splurge in the sense that we ate in a restaurant when I could have cooked a meal for the family. But we were also very practical and chose to order from a special lunch menu that had lower-priced items, so the GC would cover the entire meal. Another example, we were needing kitchen dish cloths and individual-sized microwaveable dishes. I used a thrift store gift card from my husband Christmas 2019 to purchase those items. Sometimes my use of gift cards falls in between a splurge and practical, such as last week. One daughter had given me a gift card to Five Guys (burger joint) for Christmas 2021. I had asked for time with my daughters as my gift. So my daughter gave me this gift card and she and my other daughter came with me to Five Guys for a lunch out. It's sort of a splurge, as I wouldn't ordinarily buy a meal out. Yet, I'm still practical with the spending. I asked for a cup for water and skipped the fries, just bought the burger so there would be some $$ left on the card for another time.

What do you do when there are just pennies left on a card? Do you try to find something extremely inexpensive? Is using all of each gift card important to you?

I currently have a gift card to an ice cream place that has less than 50 cents on it. It's one of those pricey ice cream shops, so I'd need to spend several dollars just to use those cents. I'm not sure what I'll do with that small balance.

Have you ever sold or regifted a gift card you couldn't use? If you've resold one, what website did you use?

I've looked into selling gift cards, but haven't chosen that route, yet. You lose some of the value and, well, that just bothers me. I have regifted a gift card, though. I received one that I didn't think I would use, but knew my husband would. So I gave it to him as part of his birthday gift one year. I told him it was regifted, but he didn't mind. 

What's been your most appreciated gift card? What kind of gift card would you most want to receive in the future?

I've specifically asked for certain gift cards in the past, based on what I needed at the moment. I have 2 most appreciated gift cards from recent years, one to a thrift store and the other to a grocery store. And I asked for both of these. A thrift store because I like to get a new top or jacket from time to time, or add to kitchen items. And I like that whatever I buy at a thrift store, it won't cost very much. With the grocery store gift card, I wanted to be able to buy myself foods that I specifically wanted without feeling guilty about the added cost.

I think if I had to choose a specific gift card that I would really appreciate receiving in the future, it would be something that would help with vacation costs, like a hotel chain gift card. Our vacations are few and far between. A gift card to a hotel chain that was within our budget would push us to actually plan and take a vacation.

Do you have any other thoughts on gift cards, either receiving or giving?


  1. I'm not a big gift card lover. I don't often receive gift cards either but I have given them out as gifts. I make sure to only purchase cards at stores that I know the recipient can find that won't cost too much. Meijer grocery stores, Subway sandwich, coffee shops are my favorites for giving. When/If I ever receive a card it seems to be for strange places that aren't even anywhere near me so I have to search to use them making them useless to me. Other ones I have to activate first while others need a pin or you need to use the credit (or is it the debit) button at the register. Too many times it has been rejected and then I have to figure out why. We had one that came with a users guide. I therefore do not like receiving gift cards. We have one right now that is sitting in a drawer and we just can't push ourselves to use it because it will reject until we find a place that will accept it.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Those are definite downsides -- no location nearby or cards that require hoops to jump through before using. Thanks for mentioning those.

    2. Those visa gc can be a pain. Here’s a tip that works at Walmart anyway. The cashier has to type in the value of the card and hit credit on their side before you run it. I always make sure I use it when I exceed the amount of the card so I can be done with it.


    3. Thanks for that tip, Diane. I have a Visa gift card to use. I'll follow your advice.

  2. When I received a gift card to a business I don’t support, I was able to donate the value of the gift card to St Jude’s Research Hospital with their CardCash program. This is also a great option for cards that have a low balance- every little bit helps!

    1. Hi Veronica,
      that's a very good suggestion. I'll look into that option for my very low balance cards. Thank you!

  3. I love gift cards! I just used a couple large gc from home goods this weekend when we were in Salt Lake City. I bought myself a couple things I needed, and then a couple things I just wanted. I have a whole purse full of them because I tend to forget to use them. I don’t like digital cards. I never remember to use those. As for what I do when I have just a little on them. Sometimes I save them, but I have also given it to the person behind me in line to finish off.


    1. Hi Diane,
      I like that suggestions to pass the card on to the person behind you. I'm sure the kind gesture is appreciated. Thank you for the idea!

  4. I find that it's easy to forget to use gift cards, especially digital ones. That being said, I do enjoy receiving them except if there aren't any places close to me to use them. A friend from across the state gave me one once and didn't realize that the closest usable location was at least 45 minutes away and not in an area that I frequent. It was kindly intended but was more stressful than enjoyable to use.

    My list of gift cards is very similar to Alice's. I sometimes have given gas gift cards and that has been well received. I am more likely to give someone a gift card that I won't use instead of re-gifting it but I don't see anything wrong with re-gifting them.

    1. Hi Kris,
      A gas card would sure be timely right now. A gas gift card would also be helpful for someone planning a vacation. Thanks for the input.

  5. I prefer to save GC until I'm ready to purchase a useful and/or beautiful item. The GC would allow me to splurge on a practical item I wanted ;D. I wouldn't use GC to buy impulse items just because I didn't pay for them. I wouldn't scrimp or pinch though as "virtue overdone becomes a vice", especially when it comes to being frugal. I'd donate the GC if it'd cost me more for an unwanted purchase. I appreciate any gift card unless it's from a company whose values/ practices don't resonate with me. It's a double blessing and I'm thankful for it.

    1. Hi Farhana,
      I like that saying -- virtue overdone becomes a vice. That's so true. It's easy to become wrapped up in saving the most money that that alone consumes us.
      Thank you for your perspective!


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