How I saved more than $100 last night.

thWe’re in the middle of a project to turn a giant three-sided building into a smaller shed, a greenhouse and a deck. When I say “we,” it’s the royal we. DF and one of his sons are doing most of the work.

He’s reusing wood from the original structure plus some boards another DIYer had given him. DF also found a great deal on paint at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and an even better deal at the “free” section of the city landfill.

Yet certain purchases — cedar boards for the deck and something called Suntuf clear PC roof panels for the greenhouse — can’t be scrounged. The roof panels are on sale at Home Depot but even so cost almost $25 a pop.

The final tally will be about $750, a figure that made us both gasp – and sent me straight to GiftCardGranny.com, an aggregator site for discounted gift cards.

Within three minutes I’d determined the best deal and ordered it. Total savings: $107.30. Wish I could earn at that rate every day.


Here’s how the deal broke down:

  • $749.62 worth of Home Depot gift cards cost me $652.44 on Cardpool.com, a 13 percent discount.
  • Because I accessed Cardpool through a cash-back shopping site I’ll be getting a rebate of $9.78.


A wallet full of discounts

Normally I don’t save this much all at once. Then again, I figure that even a 2 percent discount is worth it. That $2 off a $100 Safeway or Fred Meyer card is a couple of bucks that stays in my budget.

When you buy as many discounted cards as I do, the bucks really start to add up. Saving 15 to 20 percent on movies, haircuts and Happy Meals for my great-nephews makes me glad. Right now I have a stash of Regis Salon and Cinemark theater gift cards that should see me through the next 12 months, and I just sent away for another McDonald’s gift card through the Raise widget on my daughter’s website.

When I’m traveling to a city with a Panera Bread restaurant, I’ll order a card in advance. Recently I visited my daughter and brought along Cracker Barrel gift cards, since she’s a big fan of the biscuits and apple butter.

My wallet also holds a Subway gift card, since Linda B. and I have lunch there once a month. We use coupons, too, and get free cookies because we always answer the online survey. Frugal triple-dipping!


Why you should buy

If you’re a dedicated Target shopper or CVS deal hound, buy all your kibble and litter at Petco or PetSmart, shop frugally at Family Dollar or constantly download from iTunes, there’s a discounted gift card out there.

The selection is quite varied: You can buy scrip for craft supply stores, gasoline, airlines, sporting goods stores, jewelers, rental-car agencies, restaurants (from fast food to high-end steakhouses), garden centers, hotels and even Amazon.com.

Maybe you have a big project of your own coming up, or just want to save money on your holiday shopping or your everyday Starbucks lattes. Go to GiftCardGranny.com and look around, already.

A few tips:

Shipping should be free. And it usually is – but if it isn’t, be sure to do the math and see if a reseller’s low price really is low once you add in the postage.

Look for a rebate. See if you can access the lowest-price reseller through a cash-back shopping site such as Mr. Rebates, Extrabux or FatWallet.com. Relatively few resellers are available this way, but once you know which ones are you’ll be all set. (Hint: I’ll get that extra $9.78 because I checked.)

Guard your cards! Remember, these can be used like cash by anyone who gets his hands on them. Don’t leave them lying around, and don’t carry every card in your wallet; I lost several that way when I got mugged in Seattle.

Don’t get carried away. It can be tempting to buy that lovely scarf at Macy’s or those cute cat toys at PetSmart because gift cards making buying easy, i.e., you’re not taking money from your wallet. Sure, you saved 20 percent or whatever – but you shelled out the other 80 percent already.


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  1. Wow, super handy and thrifty! I have a list of things for you and DF to do! Just a hint is all!

  2. I do the same thing with buying gift cards to Home Depot and Lowes. It certainly helps stretch the money on large projects like this. One thing I need to work on is keeping some on hand, I usually don’t have the patience to wait a couple days for cards to arrive if I decide on a project I want to do now.

  3. Lazyretirementgirl

    Thanks to you, I use both cashback sites and discounted gift cards. Saves me after tax money on groceries and drugstore items. Btw, Home Depot has a “garden club” and will send you coupons, usually ten bucks off fifty, for garden oriented purchases. Thanks for your ideas — useful, and encouraging.

  4. Cathy in NJ

    I would love to see a picture of the new greenhouse deck combo:) One of the most useful bits of knowledge I have learned from reading you is the use of discounted gift cards. I have bought Kohls, Panera, Movie cards and sold gift cards too.

    • Donna Freedman

      Glad to know that it’s working for you, Cathy. Remember this when it’s time to do your holiday shopping, e.g., have that Kohls card ready when the loss leaders are announced. Movie gift cards make great presents all by themselves.
      I use the secondary market for my blog giveaways, e.g., a CVS or Starbucks card as a prize. People love them and I don’t have to pay full price. Bonus: Mailing a gift card is a lot easier than mailing a book.

  5. Sarah L

    Ok…I have to admit…I’ve been wanting, for YEARS to buy the discounted cards, but every time I look at the site, and almost get them, I remember all the things I’ve read about people writing down the number before they sold it, or some such thing, and then when you do get it, the card is empty, or some such… Have you ever had that happen? Any advice for me to ease my nerves? I would love to take advantage of this, we’ve had a major pay cut for the last year nad a half, and don’t see it improving for a while longer so every dollar with two growing boys, is always needed.

    • Donna Freedman

      No, I’ve never had a problem. I can understand your concern, but I think the likelihood is small. At least one site, ABC Gift Cards, guarantees the cards for 45 days. I’m not sure of the other resellers’ policies offhand.

    • I’ve never had a problem with it. Most sites allow you to leave feedback. What I do is keep all the info of the seller (including the package they mailed it in) until I have sucessfully used the entire card. I don’t leave feedback until I used the amount completely.

      I also recommend then not sitting on a card you bought second hand. I plan my purchases to mean I use the entire card completely in one transaction within a few days of receiving it.

      • Sarah Lamb

        Thank you both! I might have to do this, and plan to use the card asap, to be safe.

  6. Can I ask what cash-back shopping site you used to get an additional discount? I can go through my credit card’s shopping portal but Cardpool.com isn’t a site that’s eligible for extra savings. Just curious what you use.

  7. Costco sells gift cards with very good discount

  8. Home Depot and Lowes take competitors coupons as long as they are not expired. (Lowes most often will take thier own coupons even if expired, depends on how nice the manager is). If you find a slightly damaged item that you don’t mind, ask for a them to give a discount on it. My Lowes will honor the Mernards, Tractor Supply and Harbor Freight coupons I get in the mail, newspaper, val-pac coupon packs and Entertainment coupon books.

    Sign up here to get a 10% off Lowes coupon (sign up each email address you have) the coupon emails within a couple days usually.


    I piggy back coupons with reduced gift cards from Raise.com, so I routinely save 15-22% at Lowes.

  9. thankyousoverymuch!! This never occurred to me! A few percent here and a few percent there will add up. I’m definitely going to take advantage of this.

    • Donna Freedman

      I do it all the time, even for small purchases like a Happy Meal for my great-nephews. Just got a McDonald’s gift card in the mail that I bought at 12 percent off.


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