Saturday, January 19, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #19 - Gift Card Promotions

Gift Card Promotions

I am sure you have seen the store sales flyer that advertises if you buy a certain number of a select item or group of items you will get a gift card for a certain amount. I have seen these in numerous places, sometimes it means that you still have to fill out a rebate form and mail it in for a prepaid credit card. My favorite ones though are the ones that Target offers.

The Target ones are usually rather straight forward and the great thing is they are available to use immediately after the transaction is complete. I have bought just the select items in one transaction and then loaded the rest of my purchases on the counter to use the gift card and get the savings in my second transaction. I sometimes hold onto them if they are a lower amount like, $5, and will use it to fulfill the promise of a snack on our way out to my kids for being good while we were shopping. I also hold onto them to redeem on a future gift card offer. The great thing about the gift cards is that they don't expire!

I know someone is reading this and shaking their head wondering how on earth is buying stuff to get a gift card frugal? Well, you are right. If you are buying something that you don't need it is not frugal. Target often combines gift cards to buying multiple packs of diapers, toilet paper, or Starbucks coffee beans---Things that I buy on a regular basis and can combine with manufacturer and sometimes store coupons to get a really good deal. When I factor in the additional savings that I am getting back in the form of a gift card it can make the deal even better. Yes, it can be seen as "bait" to get me back into the store. But to be honest, I was going to come back anyway - with or without the gift card.

It is important to check the policy or read the fine print at other stores when they have this type of offer. I remember several years ago having my plan fail when I went Christmas shopping at Toys R Us with a coupon for a gift card if I spent a certain amount. I knew I was going to be buying that much and was excited to get a little bit back, only to realize that the gift card that I was getting was not going to be activated until 6 hours after my purchase - forcing me to come back and use it. I still saw the gift card as a savings, like I said I already knew I was going to be spending that amount. I didn't add extra things to my cart to make me hit the target. I just had to be strategic about when to come back and what to buy the next time.

I have also used $5 Target gift cards that I didn't immediately redeem to give out to homeless people on the street. I figure it allows them to maybe get some small toiletries or if nothing else get some food at the snack bar.

Do you utilize gift card offers? Do you normally hold onto the gift card or do you redeem it right away?

Please feel free to share any tips that you have!


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