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, McClatchy News Service

Tips for giving, getting gift cards

  • Article by: TARA MCALISTER
  • Charlotte Observer
  • December 12, 2012 - 3:20 PM

Chances are you'll buy at least one gift card for somebody this holiday season. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 81 percent of holiday shoppers will purchase one. It's estimated that consumers will spend $28.8 billion on gift cards. Here are some best gift-card practices:

BUYING GIFT CARDS

Look for incentives from retailers, especially restaurants. Right now, Outback and Bonefish Grill will give you a $20 gift card when you purchase $100 in gift cards. Purchase a $25 gift card at Olive Garden and receive an additional $5 gift card. BI-LO offers Fuel Perk rewards with its gift cards. (See the BI-LO website.)

Purchase discounted gift cards or sell unused gift cards on websites such as GiftCardGranny.com and GiftcardRescue.com. Be sure to read the fine print.

Keep an eye on the local daily deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social and HalfoffDepot. If you are buying a gift for someone outside your local area, change the city before you search for deals.

GIVING CREATIVE GIFT CARDS

For those who need their java fix, buy a mug and include it with a coffee shop gift card and include some after-coffee mints.

For those who love to DIY, tape a home improvement store gift card to a roll of duct tape.

Put a movie gift card inside a large box of candy.

For those who may need a little pampering, attach a gift card for a mani-pedi on a pair of flip flops.

GETTING GIFT CARDS

Don't be a gift card hoarder.

A November Consumer Reports survey found that a quarter of adults still hadn't used at least one gift card they'd received from the previous holiday season.

Some gift cards lose their value, and not using them takes away from the sentiment intended by the gift giver.

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