On a budget and shopping for gifts? Consider discount gift certificates.
Discount gift certificates provide people with a way to give a nice gift without paying the face value of the gift certificate. The National Retail Federation reports that in one year, more than two-thirds of polled individuals planned to purchase gift certificates as holiday gifts. Even budget-conscious shoppers can take advantage of this trend by finding discount gift certificates to a variety of vendors, including many name brands, for a variety of pre-set amounts.
Consumers should keep in mind that a gift card wont retain any value if the hosting company goes out of business. The Columbia Dispatch reported that several large companies filed for bankruptcy in 2008, including Sharper Image, Whitehall Jewelers, Circuit City and Mervyns. Still, a person who likes to utilize gift certificates can find them at discounted prices by looking for secondary discount gift certificates to buy or trade, shopping at clubs, bidding for discount gift certificates and watching for sales.
Discount gift certificates can be found through Web sites devoted to buying, selling and trading them. These Web sites usually secure gift certificates, most often in the form of gift cards, from people who sell gift certificates they received as gifts to the vendor. The vendor usually pays less than the face value of the card, which allows the vendor to resell the card at a discounted rate and still make a profit. There are two ways a person can secure secondary discount gift certificates. The first way is to purchase a discount gift certificate from the vendor. The vendor lists the price and usually the discount percentage. The second way is for the individual to trade in a gift certificate. The vendor usually keeps a percentage of the transaction, but the person receives a gift certificate at a rate lower than the face value of the certificate. People who received a gift certificate they won't use often prefer to trade in the gift certificate for one they will use.
Another way a person can secure discount gift certificates is to join a membership-based club like Sam's Club or Costco. When a membership club carries gift certificates, the cost for the gift certificates is less than face value. For example, a consumer might find a package of five Starbucks gift cards worth $20 each for a total cost of $80 rather than $100. This option works well for a person who plans to use the membership for other purchases; the yearly savings overall usually compensates for the cost of the membership fee, which might not be the case for a single-time purchase. If a person doesn't plan to shop in the membership club on a regular basis, then a trial membership might be considered in order to purchase the discount gift certificates without paying the full membership fee.
According to TowerGroup, consumers lost $8 billion in 2006 due to gift certificates or cards. When a person fails to redeem a gift certificate, the company who honors the gift certificate is under no obligation to return the money. Many people who receive a gift card opt to gain some value from the gift certificate rather than let the company keep the money. Often these individuals sell the gift certificates on online auctions like eBay. A budget-conscious shopper can bid on gift certificates to get ones at less than face value. When a consumer shops for discount gift certificates at online auctions, the person should find out the expiration date for the gift certificate; it won't be much of a gift if the certificate has already or is about to expire.
Credit card companies often offer reward programs as a way to attract more consumers to choose their cards. In some cases, the credit card reward program may provide the consumer with a gift certificate, providing the consumer with a way to get the certificate at a discounted rate. Some Web sites offer their members points, which the member can redeem for a gift certificate. Even if a person's credit card company does not offer gift certificates as a reward, the person can trade the reward points for gift cards at Web sites that deal with swaps.
Another way a person can find discount gift certificates is to keep an eye out for sales. Some vendors offer discounted rates on their gift certificates throughout the year. Usually these sales occur when the company's sales slump. Most industries experience sales trends that can help a consumer know when a company may put its gift certificates on sale.