So the choice you have is make more money or save more money. I'm not sure I can tell you how to make more money. This is about your second choice, saving.
You can save a lot of dough everywhere you shop by using a secondary marketplace to buy, sell, or trade gift cards. Many people have already used a secondary marketplace to buy a ticket to a show that was sold out. In it's most primitive, that's what scalpers are doing outside stadiums. If you've ever used ebay to buy something still in it's package, and it's not from the manufacturer, you are using a secondary market.
Let's talk about my first few times I bought "used" gift cards. When all was said and done I think I spent $81.75 for over $205 worth of clothing, I spent $21.90 for $50 worth of McDonalds, and $17 for an incomputable amount of cookies and candy. Friends and family, for no reason whatsoever are finding gifts on their doorstep. I'm really really really cheap so why this new gifting attitude? Because I got a Raise!
I get raises every week in fact. Sometimes it's 2%, or 15% but can be as high as 46%. How?
I buy a lot of second-hand gift cards. The fact that I only have six of them in my digital wallet now is unusual because these days, wherever I shop (or eat) I use pre-owned gift cards.
Source: Regulated PS
There are several sites I know of where you can buy gift cards for less than their face value. Raise.com was my first foray into this money-saving marketplace but once you understand them, be sure to look at cardavenue.com, saveya.com, giftcardgranny.com, and more. Enter "secondary gift card market" into any search engine and find the one that's right for you. Let's use GiftCardGranny as an example because I think Grannies might be the reason this even exists.
Grandma gives you a card for Toys R Us every year... and for a long time you liked that! Somewhere along the way though she lost track of whose birthday is when and you're now 14 years old and you would rather shop for clothes, or you're 16 and you need some gear for your car, or you're 21 and a trip to anywhere that sells liquor would be your favorite place to go. What happens to that gift card? Well, millions of dollars in gift cards just sit in drawers until someone eventually throws them out. Millions of gift cards are not redeemed and retailers LOVE that. A gift card paid for, but never used, is 99.99% profit. I'm allowing an entire penny for the cost of making the card.
These days you have choices. You can sell or trade that card for a card you will definitely use in a place you actually like to go. Some sites will simply buy the card from you outright. They'll give you 75¢ - 92¢ for every dollar on the card even if it's half used. Whatever is left on it they'll pay you for. Done! Now you can take that cash wherever you want. Still, be sure to send Grandma a Thank You card. You could skype, text, call, email, or just post a thank you on facebook - but Grandmas love Thank You cards!
Use a credit card for even better savings and get cash back everywhere you shop! Check out what's the best credit card for you right now and look for one that best fits your need.
Source: Card Pool
If you don't want to sell your gift cards for the price currently being offered, you can trade your cards. If you have $50 from a clothing store, $50 from an ice cream store, and $50 from a shoe store, that would be a $150 value. But maybe you would rather go to a concert. What do you do? Trade those cards (minus the service fees charged by the exchanges) for $150 to a ticketing website. Or perhaps you can only get $125 for your gift cards, but isn't part of the value better then leaving your cards sit and never getting anything for them?
I save my oodles of money - everywhere - by being on the buying end. Let's use my Rue21 card as an example. There was a $99.10 card listed for $65. That weekend certain cards were an extra 5% off. So my $99.10 card only would cost $61.75. Since gift cards are just like cash I could now use that card during a 40% off sale. I bought $160 worth of clothes, was charged just $99, and that was the card I bought for only $61.75. On top of all that savings, Rue21 has was having a double RueBucks weekend which meant for every $40 I spent I was getting $40 towards my next shopping trip. Someone who is very good at math can figure it out exactly, but I got a crap ton of fun, stylish, youthful clothing for very little money.
Because I love using the cards so much I thought I'd share the info with my friends. For each one of my friends that used my referral code I got $5 from Raise. Today I picked up $50 card to McDonalds (which was on sale for $41.90) then applied $20 in credits, I got the $50 gift card for $21.90. These stories can go on and on and on.
Each marketplace is only limited by who is looking at them, what those people want to get rid of, and what they want to buy. It seems throughout couponing sites that there are a lot more coupons for goods than for restaurants. The secondary gift card market however is flush with gift cards for restaurants!
The market is also very fluid. Every day, even as often as every few minutes, cards get sold and new cards get listed. This means if you see a good deal you must be ready to pounce on it. I get alerts for certain stores in my email. For instance, I want to purchase a Torrid.com gift card for no more than $150 but I have to save at least 25%. So, when a Torrid gift card worth $150 is listed for $112.50 or less, I get notified. If a Panda Express gift card is listed for at least a 20% savings I get notifed and usually buy it for my husband. He's going to go there anyway, this just keeps him from paying full price - ever!
There are a few more helpful tips before you make your first purchase of a discounted gift card.
The marketplaces I shop at, offer a guarantee of value. I had problems with a gift card that a restaurant would not accept so I reluctantly paid at the restaurant and then called the gift card help line. It seems there was a problem with my card and the value was not what the seller had stated. The help line refunded my money very quickly, with no cynical questions like "are you sure you didn't already use it?" That happens. Someone lists a card thinking it has never been used but another family member used it without telling them. For all the cards I've purchased, that has only happened once. It's an anomally. You should not expect trouble when buying a card.
Source: The Simple Dollar
Some cards can only be used in a physical store and some can only be used online. If you aren't sure where you are mostly likely to do shopping for that store, you might want to skip the gift card. Most cards, however, work in physical stores and online.
There's a little part of me saying "Did you really want to write this? Did you really want to share this?" Yes, because when I see my friends spending money they don't have to, a little part of me aches. At the same time, I don't want everyone to suddenly buy all the cards that I'm used to getting inexpensively. I'm counting on the fact that there are dozens of marketplaces and thousands of stores, and this little article is not going to mean all my favorite cards will get snatched up before I can get to buy them.
Please, share your story in the comment section, of your best savings with gift cards. If you have any more tips about a particular marketplace, we all want to know. I think my boss might give me a raise this evaluation period, but if not, I can create the same extra wealth by never paying full price anywhere. So can you.
If you've never used Raise.com before, you can check out this page on DealsPlus.com to see some of the latest savings and codes for new buyers and sellers. There is always a code for a new user, periodically there are codes for existing users, and almost every weekend and holiday a selection of cards is on sale.