A sale for cash? Count me in, says the SC personal finance columnist. | Business

At this time each year, the silver is put up for sale.

I’m talking about gift cards, which is another form of money. Gift cards don’t expire, they don’t necessarily have to be used as gifts, and in December of each year, discounted gift cards are plentiful.

This is one of my favorite holiday shopping and savings tips. Purchasing gift cards below face value can help you save money on gifts if you plan to give them to others, or save money on your own expenses.

If a car wash you frequent is offering $ 125 in gift cards for $ 100, why don’t you buy them and save $ 25 on future car washes that you were going to buy anyway? (Liquid Highway in Mount Pleasant was advertising this deal last week).

It’s even better than the 20% deal that Publix offers sporadically throughout the year on gas station gift cards, which I described as a strategy to deal with gas prices. .

Some discounted gift card deals have been back and forth during Black Friday sales before, but there are plenty more left. If you’ve saved the money, buying discounted gift cards now to pay for things you are already planning to buy next year can be a steal.

To illustrate how this can work well, or not quite as expected, my story of two gift cards:

In December 2020, a hair salon my wife frequented announced a 20% discount on gift cards. I jumped at the chance to save $ 200 on $ 1000 in future services, and it worked well, like buying cash on sale.

The gift card I purchased did not represent any new or increased expense. He paid for services that my family already expected to buy, but at a lower cost.

In December 2019, we looked forward to our son’s out-of-state college graduation in the spring, and Hyatt hotels offered a 10% discount on gift cards. We were planning on staying with other family members at a Hyatt so this seemed like an easy way to save money.

So I shelled out $ 900 for a $ 1,000 gift card, planning to use it four months later – but the COVID-19 pandemic struck, graduation was canceled, and two years later, I still have a mostly unspent Hyatt gift card. I will use it eventually, but hadn’t planned on having money in a brand-specific gift card for years.

Someday we'll be going on vacation again, and big points and miles can help us prepare.

Of course, you can’t factor a possible global pandemic into gift card purchases, but there is always the possibility that plans and needs will change. So I wouldn’t spend money on gift cards if not having access to that money could become a problem.

People who find themselves with gift cards they don’t intend to use can sell them online, but should expect to get less than face value. I could, for example, resell my Hyatt gift card, but it’s worth more if I keep it and possibly use it. Of course, people can also buy discounted gift cards that others resell.

One thing to watch out for is that many businesses – chain restaurants in particular – like to give gift card deals this time of year with a twist. Instead of offering, say, $ 125 in gift cards for $ 100, they’ll offer a “bonus card” if you buy a gift card. A typical offer would be a $ 20 bonus card for the purchase of a $ 100 gift card.

A bonus card is not the same as a gift card, and they usually have expiration dates and restrictions on when they can be used. Restaurants, for example, often offer bonus cards that must be used in January or February. If this is a restaurant where you like to dine, this is still a good way to buy cash on sale, but be aware of the rules.

Inflation problems make personal finance and spending decisions more important than ever

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To reach David slade at 843-937-5552. Follow him on Twitter @DSladeNews.

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