Danville, CA, December 11, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- For years, consumers have coaxed the price tag off of presents so recipients wouldn’t know how much money they spent on the relationship. And now, with the exchange of gift cards, they’re supposed to feel comfortable putting the dollar amount at the forefront of the gift. Not everybody is ready for the transition. But Shelley Hunter, the Gift Card Girlfriend, says consumers can feel good about gift carding using her signature approach. She also offers the following five suggestions for ways to save money buying and using gift cards this holiday season:
Choose plastic over paper. Long before gift cards, folks, fresh out of gift ideas, stuffed cash or checks into greeting cards. To some, the gift card isn’t much better. But by adding something inexpensive, free, or homemade, you can turn even a cheap gift card into a thoughtful gift. $10 cash in a greeting card is nice. A $10 gift card to the cooking store along with a copy of five favorite recipes is personal. Hunter says to save money, consumers should share their time, talents, or ideas along with a gift card they can afford. More specific ideas can be found on Visit www.GiftCardGirlfriend.com.
Stay within your budget. Overspending is easy when shopping for traditional gifts. Although shoppers might have a dollar limit in mind, finding something they like within that range isn’t always possible. With gift cards, however, consumers decide how much money to spend. Hunter advises, "Pick an amount that works for your budget and put it on the card. Don’t be embarrassed if the amount is small. Stick to what you can afford and make the gift card more meaningful in other ways. For example, my kids are making homemade bookmarks to go with a gift card to the book store. The activity will keep the kids occupied and help me deliver a sentimental gift without overspending."
Buy discount gift cards. A variety of online web sites sell gift cards for less than face value and allow consumers to collect cash for gift cards they don’t want. Hunter likes to buy discount cards at Costco where they sell an increasing number of gift cards from retailers with discounts anywhere from about 6% (iTunes) to 20% (Elephant Bar). The recipient gets the full value of the gift card, but the giver doesn't have to spend that much money.
Give one, get one. In an effort to grab shopping dollars, retailers are offering “give one, get one” (“GOGO”) deals where buyers receive a free gift card with the purchase of another. For example, Safeway held a “Black Friday & Saturday” gift card promotion where shoppers who bought $200 in gift cards received $20 off a future shopping trip. They ran a similar GOGO program shortly after and other retailers are doing the same—Black Angus Steakhouse, The Container Store, and CVS Pharmacy to name a few. GOGO specials allow consumers to increase their spending power without spending more money.
Give yourself a gift card. Cost-conscious shoppers can buy discount gift cards for personal use or take advantage of GOGO offers and use both the paid for and free card for themselves. Here are some examples:
- Hunter recently bought a CVS e-card for $25 and got a free $5 e-gift card in return. She took both gift cards to CVS and purchased $30 worth of household products for just $25.
- Since she plans to buy gifts at Toys “R” Us and Macy’s this Christmas, Hunter bought gift cards for both stores at Safeway in order to cash in on the grocer's GOGO offer. Then, instead of gifting the cards, she used the cards to buy gifts at Toys “R” Us and Macy’s respectively.
- Costco is selling $100 gift cards to Baja Fresh and other restaurants for $79.99. Customers who frequently eat at those restaurants could eat more for less simply by buying Costco's discount gift cards before their next dining experience.
While taking advantage of some of these strategies may require a little planning, Hunter says consumers are leaving money at the check stand if they don’t at least try.