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Make the most of the last few pennies on your gift cards

When you receive a gift card for your birthday, the holidays, or a random occasion, it can be difficult to spend it down to the last cent. Maybe you forget about the small, trivial balance remaining. Perhaps you don’t know what to buy with the tiny bit of cash remaining.

Whatever the case may be, don’t just let the mostly-used cards take up space and gather dust in your wallet. Spend that cash, even if you don’t think it’s going to go anywhere, using these helpful tips.

Read on and find out how to make sure you get every penny’s worth on your gift cards.

Get organized and act fast

First, you want to make sure the cards you may have been carrying around are actually still valid and retain a balance. Some gift cards do expire, and the expiration dates do vary. When you go so long without using them, some also begin charging a service fee. If you only had a few cents left on the card, that means you’ll have been robbed of the cash you had left.

See which cards you have that still need to be spent, see about finding out their balance with apps like Gyft or Raise, and mark your calendar while you start looking for a place to blow what’s left of those once-full gift cards.

Complete simple tasks and get free gift cards on your phone

Refill cards for favorite locations

If you have a gift card for locations you visit often, why not reload the card and continue to use it as a store-specific debit card? This way, whatever balance you carry over will be added to the new cash you’ve loaded it with (some are reloadable while others aren’t) and you can use it to shop at your favorite store. Easy-peasy!

Finish off purchases with your last few cents

Instead of carrying around cards with a small balance and never using them, make an inventory of what you have and make a habit of applying what’s left to regular cash purchases.

It may be frustrating, but all it takes is a simple swipe of the card before you pay with your regular method of payment to spend everything left on it on your current purchase. This kills two birds with one stone: You know how much is on the card, and you’ve shaved a bit off of the day’s shopping trip.

Boss asks you to buy gift cards? It might be a scam!

Ask a retailer for a cash balance

Don’t want to spend the gift card on pocket change? Ask for the cash balance! In some states, you can request a cash balance for cards that still have a bit of money left on them. California and Rhode Island shoppers are protected by law, as stores must offer cash for gift cards with less than $10 for the Western state and less than $1 for Rhode Island.

Everywhere else, you can always make the request for the retailer to give you what’s left on your card. Be polite and courteous. You never know what they might be able to do for you even if it’s not a requirement.

Try to use your card at a sister location


Many gift cards for stores and restaurants can be used at other locations under the same brand umbrella.

For example, Darden Restaurants gift cards are often treated this way, though many of the cards are branded with the restaurants they’re valid at. In that case, you could use your LongHorn Steakhouse card at Olive Garden or somewhere else Darden Restaurants manages. This way, you have more flexibility. It’s always worth trying, even if you’re not sure the gift card will be accepted.

Loyalty points and gift card scams are on the rise

How many gift cards do you have lying around that need to be spent? Try these tips out and see if they change things up significantly for you!

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