Whether you're gifting to others or gifting to yourself, an option always on the table is cards - gift cards.
Sure, they're often scorned by traditionalists who say it's a lazy way out of actually putting thought and effort into gift giving. Me? I'm in the other tribe. Love giving them. Love getting them. And it gets even better when you can find a discount on a gift card, a win-win for the giver (who saves a few bucks) and for the receiver (who gets a full-value gift card).
We went looking for bargains of at least 10% off among gift cards for popular retailers, restaurants and movie theaters. We also sought out double-digit deals on gift cards sold at Costco and BJ's Wholesale Club. Just be sure to factor in a warehouse club's membership fee (starting at $50 a year for BJ's, $60 for Costco) when calculating the true value of the gift card discount.
A final note: Some of the best bargains on gift cards can be found at third-party websites that specialize in reselling partially used or unwanted cards. Many gift cards are electronic, meaning you'll receive a discount code by email. Physical gift cards are sold, too, but they might arrive in the mail scratched up or only good for an amount below the actual value printed on the card. Keep these factors in mind if giving the gift cards as gifts.
Discount Gift Cards for Popular Retailers
GiftCardGranny.com, which pools deals on gift cards from various third-party gift card sites, has a slew of gift cards for popular retailers. For example, gift cards to maternity retailer A Pea in the Pod were being sold at a 15% discount (including $85 for a $100 gift card) via GiftCardBin.com and CardFlip.com.
Other gift cards to popular retailers sporting discounts of at least 10% on GiftCardGranny included Abercrombie and Fitch (10.7% off), Ann Taylor (a whopping 30% below face value), Cabela's (14% off), H&M (26%), Joseph A. Bank (12%) and JCPenney (11.5%).
The retailer offerings at discount gift card website Cardpool.com included Chico's (20%), Henri Bendel (15%) and Torrid (13%). Another gift card reseller, RetailMeNot.com, listed discounts of at least 10% for Bass Pro Shops (12.2%), Michaels (13%) and Pier 1 Imports (12%).
Discounts for certain retailers tend to be limited, driven by popularity, seasonality and the forces of supply and demand. The best we could find for Toys R Us was 5%; Target, 5.5%; and Best Buy, 3%. Discounts on Walmart gift cards, when available, were less than 1%.
Discount Gift Cards for Popular Restaurant Chains
Similarly, you'll find discount gift cards to popular chain restaurants at reseller sites.
Cardpool's lineup includes Cheesecake Factory (10% off face value), Chili's (17% off), and P.F. Chang's (20.5% off). RetailMeNot's restaurant offerings include Olive Garden (10.6%), On the Border (16%) and Krispy Kreme (20%). Gift card supplies can be very limited, so if you see a deal you like, grab it before it disappears.
Looking for something more upscale? GiftCardGranny has discount gift cards listed for Del Frisco's and McCormick & Schmick's (both 15% off), as well as Morton's Steakhouse (12%).
Discount Movie Theater Gift Cards
Don't forget your entertainment pleasures when it comes to seeking discount gift cards. Third-party sellers have a wide range of offerings with an array of discounts for just about every cinema operator out there. Gift cards are good for movie tickets, as well popcorn, sodas and other snacks.
At Cardpool, discount gift cards for cinema chains included AMC Theaters (19% off) and Regal Entertainment Group (17% off). Fandango gift cards were 24% off at Cardpool and 25% off at RetailMeNot. On GiftCardGranny, Carmike Cinemas gift cards were marked down 21%, and Loews Cineplex was discounted 20% (though the predominant discount was 12.5%).
Discount Gift Cards Sold at Warehouse Clubs
BJ's members can take advantage of discounts on new physical gift cards - no scratch marks, partial values or electronic codes to deal with, so better for gifting - mostly to restaurants and entertainment spots. Among BJ's restaurant options are 20% off on gift cards to Bokampers Sports Bar & Grill, UNO Pizzeria and Grill, Spaghetti Warehouse and Blue Moon Mexican Café. (With all four restaurants, you pay $39.99 for a pair of $25 gift cards.) BJ's discount gift cards for entertainment include two $25 gift cards to Dipson Theatres for $42.99 (14% off), a pack of three $10 AMC Theaters gift cards for $26.99 (10% off), and three Regal Cinemas gift cards for $26.99 (10% off).
Costco was recently selling $200 Apple App Store & iTunes electronic gift cards (codes delivered by email) online for $180 (10% off). There were also 10% discounts on Apple electronic gift cards with face values of $100 and $25. Don't be leery about not having a physical card; these codes work just fine. I've gifted them to myself often. The typical Apple gift card discount at Costco is less than 10%, so this more generous offer is selling fast.
In the restaurant realm, Costco's offering of discount gift cards include $100 worth of gift cards to McCormick & Schmick's or Fleming's Prime Steakhouse restaurants for $79.99 (20% off), and $100 worth of Buca di Beppo gift cards for $69.99 (30% off).
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Copyright 2017 The Kiplinger Washington Editors