HOUSTON - One of the most popular gifts this holiday season will be gift cards because so many people are shopping online.
Gift cards can help you stay on budget because you can spend only the amount you want to. There are no taxes, no shipping costs.
Further, gift cards can help you come under budget. In fact, you can give some gift cards for free. Here's how.
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You don't have pay full price for a gift card.
"This time of year, you can get good deals on gift cards and discounts on them, maybe $5 when you buy $25, $10 off when you buy $50," said Jill Gonzales, an Analyst with www.WalletHub.com.
Sites like www.Giftcards.com, www.Cardpool.com, www.Raise.com, and www.CardCash.com sell gift cards at a discount.
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You can also re-gift those gifts you've had for a while but never used. The Credit Card Act means they can't expire for at least five years.
"That's the legal limit, that five years. But most merchants will accept your gift cards no matter how long you've had them," said Gonzalez.
You can even ask the merchant to transfer the credit to a fresh card and restart that five-year clock.
Or sell the gift card for cash on sites like www.Raise.com, www.CardPool.com, www.GiftCardGranny.com, www.CardKangaroo.com, or www.Giftcards.com.
"Say you have a $75 Dunkin Donuts gift card and you want to sell it. You could get $50 to $60 for it if you'd rather have the cash," said Gonzalez.
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You can buy gift cards with earned rewards, like points or miles you've earned on your credit cards.
But if you are buying a gift card, WalletHub says don't confuse them with card-network gift cards or prepaid cards with vendors like Visa, Mastercard, or Discover. They may have fees.
"Two things to watch out for: one of them are pre-paid gift cards, essentially pre-paid cards that can actually cost your recipient money. Those do come with fees. Another thing, are those popular Visa and Mastercard gift cards. They do come with a fee so they're either going to cost you or they're going to cost the recipient," said Gonzalez.