Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping with Discount Gift Cards

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In my house, back-to-school shopping time can be more financially stressful than the holidays. Besides the “suggested” parent donations for the technology lab, reading specialists, class party funds, and more, I have to buy mandatory school supplies, gym clothes, combination locks, and closed-toe shoes for all three of my children. After adding long pants, replacement backpacks, and a few other basics, the August bill easily tops December’s total.

To ease the crunch on the family budget, I shop with discount gift cards. Using this approach, I can easily pocket double-digit savings simply by using the gift cards other people didn’t want.

What are Discount Gift Cards?

People can sell gift cards they don’t want to a gift card reseller for less than the value of the gift card. A $50 card, for example, might fetch up to $40 or more, depending on the popularity of the retailer and the amount of inventory already in stock. The reseller then sells the gift card online for slightly more, but still less than the full value of the gift card. Buying and using these discounted gift cards is my secret to back-to-school savings.

Discount Gift Card Strategies

To successfully use discount gift cards, I suggest the following strategies:

  • Be Flexible. There are a number of stores I could shop to find school essentials, but I let the discounts direct my course. For example, I’ll choose a department store gift card with an 18 percent reduction over a clothing store gift card that is 9 percent off. I’ll choose either over shopping a retailer with no discount gift cards available at all.
  • Stay in One Place. Rather than buy single gift cards for different stores, I buy multiple gift cards for the same store. Not only does this save time while shopping, it also helps me qualify for in-store incentives such as coupons redeemable when spending reaches a designated threshold or deeper sale prices given when multiples are purchased (e.g. buy three, get one free).
  • Plan Ahead. Plastic discount gift cards can take up to a week to be delivered while digital gift codes may arrive via e-mail the same day. To be sure the cards and codes you want arrive as needed, shop discount gift card sites early and often. Buy a couple of discount cards per week to spread the cost of back to school shopping out over a longer period of time.
  • Stack With Coupons. In addition to store coupons, you can stack discount gift card savings with coupon codes available at coupon sites. Coupon codes and discount gift codes work well together because both are digital and easy to redeem online.

Though saving with discount gift cards is a year-round option, I feel especially triumphant spending less when expenses are higher than usual such as when a family birthday is coming up, a vacation is in the works, or the holidays are upon us.

Shelley Hunter, a.k.a. Gift Card Girlfriend, is your consumer guide to gift cards. As the founder of GiftCardGirlfriend.com, Shelley created a strong following and become an authority on all things gift cards. 

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