That’s how one guy described discounted gift cards — the subject of my current column, “Instant savings on holiday shopping,” over at MSN Money. (Edited to add: That column is no longer available on the MSN Money platform. Read on for the basics.)
These cards become available for various reasons, usually because their owners need the money or because the gift was unsuitable. Resellers like Plastic Jungle or Cardpool make them available to consumers at less than face value.
You can save 3% to 30% (or more) on cards for places you plan to shop for the holidays. There’s an aggregator site called Gift Card Granny that pulls up the best deals from eight different sources.
But these aren’t just for gift-shopping. You can use this “new coupon” to provide consistent discounts for your everyday purchases.
For example, a friend of mine loves going to the movies. I clued her in to 20% discounts for two of the theater chains in her area (Regal and Cinemark). She sent away for two cards. The 20% plus her senior citizen discount will stretch her entertainment dollars.
Do you buy gas at Shell, meet friends at Chili’s, shop clearance sales at Kohl’s? Gift cards are currently available at discounts of 3%, 10% and 12%, respectively.
Some of the cards are full-value and could technically be given as gifts all by themselves. Most of the people I’ve talked to about this feel vaguely uncomfortable doing so, however. The resellers guarantee the card balances, but somehow people don’t like giving a discounted card.
Whatever. Just use them to buy gifts, then, or to hit the post-holiday clearance sales.
Incidentally, Gift Card Granny also includes the best places to sell your unwanted gift cards. So if Grandma hasn’t figured out that her favorite store isn’t your favorite store, or if your brother’s idea of a joke is to give you a steakhouse gift card even though you’re a vegan….Well, you have options.
Except, of course, about writing thank-you notes. That’s not optional.