I need to tell you guys a secret. And that secret is discount gift cards.
This week I bought Urban Outfitters gift cards totaling $350 for just $269.50. On top of that, through this weekend, Urban Outfitters is offering $50 off orders of $150 or more – that means I can get $400 worth of merchandise for $269.50! I’ve had my eye on some furniture for my new apartment…
Let’s do a quick thought experiment…
Let’s say you buy a grande black Pike Place Roast at Starbucks every morning on the way to work. Let’s say that costs you $1.65 a day, five days a week, 47 weeks a year (assuming two weeks vacation, ten national holidays, and one week of sick time). That’s $387.75 per year.
Now let’s say that instead of paying cash for that coffee, you bought discount gift cards and registered them with your free Starbucks Rewards account. Next, if you create a Starbucks Rewards account, after 30 “stars” you’ll start earning one free drink for every 12 – which means 15 of those coffees are going to be on the house, bringing your total down to $363. As of this writing, you can buy $365 worth of discounted Starbucks gift cards on Raise and Cardpool for $324.63.
In other words, I just saved you $63 a year on coffee. You can thank me later.
Where to Buy Discount Gift Cards
Note that you can also sell unwanted gift cards to these sites.
If the store you’re looking for is currently sold out of discount gift cards, you can sign up for email alerts – but note that you’ll need to act IMMEDIATELY if you get an email. I’m signed up for email alerts for Forever XXI gift cards on Cardpool and whenever I get an email, the card is usually gone within 5-10 minutes.
Pay attention to whether you’re buying an electronic gift card or a physical card. Generally, both electronic gift cards and physical gift cards can be used to purchase things online, but electronic gift cards usually can’t be used to buy things in-store.
Physical gift cards will need to be shipped to you which may take a few days, and even electronic gift cards will often take a day to process before you’ll have access to the code, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. This is to protect the seller from fraud. Because of the delay, it’s smart to think ahead and buy gift cards for stores you know you’ll be shopping at instead of waiting until you need something.
It’s worth it to shop around – sometimes one of the gift card sites will have a radically better deal than another. You can usually sort the list of available gift cards in order of highest value or greatest discount. I’ve noticed that in general you can get a deeper discount if you’re buying a card with more money on it.
The more broadly appealing the card is, the less the discount will be. For example, a Visa gift card – which you can use almost anywhere – will usually sell for face value. The biggest discount I’ve seen is about 1.5%. Stores that sell pretty much everything like Walmart and Amazon will similarly have very low discounts – in the 1-3% range. Also stores like Apple that sell highly desirable, very expensive items will tend to have low discounts – I’ve seen mostly around 1%.
Note that if you use a discount gift card, you can combine it with a promo code and other sales for additional discounts. However, if you’re using a gift card, you can’t use a credit card, which means you won’t have access to any points or discounts you get from using your credit card. For example, discount Target gift cards usually only go for about 2-4% off – that’s not really worth it for me because I have a Target RED card which gives me 5% off every purchase plus free shipping and an extra 60 days for returns. If I’m shopping at Target, I’d rather use my RED card.
The best situations for buying discount gift cards:
If you’re buying a gift card for someone as a gift.
If there’s a store or restaurant or website that you buy from very regularly – big box stores like Target, coffee shops, gas stations, and grocery stores are probably the most common examples.
If you have specific plans to purchase something expensive from a niche company (e.g. jewelry, electronics, furniture, airline tickets). That’s where you can really see a savings. For example, I saw a gift card for Anthropologie for a $50 discount off about $530. If you already had plans to buy a piece of furniture for $700, for example, why not get the $50 off?
Gift cards can also be a smart way to budget. I have a friend who buys a $20 Starbucks gift card every month and loads it onto the Starbucks Rewards account on her iPhone app. Once that gift card runs out, no more Starbucks for the rest of the month. Even better, she’s earning points every time she uses that gift card through her app, so she gets a free drink after every 12 she pays for (plus a few other perks and discounts). Now that’s smart!
There are even discounted gift cards for airlines! If you regularly fly a specific airline, why not buy a gift card for a few hundred dollars and use it the next time you buy a ticket?
The good people at Birchbox were nice enough to send me some samples and products to review for you guys.
If you’re not familiar with Birchbox, they sell a monthly subscription box of beauty and home products for $10/mo. They have a version for women and a version for men. You can see my roundup for almost 100 different monthly subscription boxes HERE.
They sent me the (sold out) limited edition Snow Day box and the women’s and men’s November boxes. Yes, I even tested men’s products. That’s how much I love you.
I’d had my eye on the Snow Day box for awhile so I was really excited when Birchbox sent it to me! It’s sold out now but many of the products within are still available on the site.
L’OCCITANE hand cream is the best. The packaging is so classy, it smells so nice, and the cream is MUCH needed in this dry winter weather. Especially since I’m a dummy and frequently go out in 10 degree weather without wearing gloves. I’m also a huge fan of the S.W. Basics cinnamon lip balm, though I didn’t expect to be. It’s my new favorite chapstick.
MALIN + GOETZ candles are always solid and this one is no exception, though every time I light it I do worry the cops are going to bust down my door. I generally prefer candles like this to ones that smell like cotton candy or something. The Jonathan Adler fireplace matches are a bit much for lighting candles and the fireplace in my house is sadly sealed, but what they’re PERFECT for is lighting the pilot light on my ancient gas stove that is forever going out. Because lighting that thing terrifies me and I need as much distance between me and that flame as possible. And the package looks so pretty in my kitchen!
The socks from Happy Socks are SO soft and cozy. The ones I got are purple with stripes and they are so pretty. Also cozy: the cup of hot cocoa I made with the Askinosie single origin cocoa powder and Three Tarts cinnamon marshmallows. Note that that is cocoa powder, not hot chocolate powder, so there is no sugar in it. That’s good for me because I don’t like my hot chocolate overly sweet and so I’d rather add the sugar myself.
I haven’t had a chance to try out the Mox Botanicals body soak yet. I know this is weird, but I don’t really like taking baths? They always get cold too fast and the bathroom is so quiet without the shower running and I feel dirtier when I get out than I did when I got in.
I’m also not a Scrabble fan (I always lose because I spend the whole game trying to find a really impressive word to play while my opponent slaughters me with two-letter words no one has ever heard of), but mini Scrabble is clearly a good idea for travel and a super cute gift idea (though this one is Birchbox branded).
The Chantecaille cleansing milk and healing mask seem fine but the samples are so tiny (mayyyybe the size of my little finger) that it’s hard to really tell.
Eyeko Black Magic Mascara I love this mascara when I first put it on. It glides on smooth, soft, even, dark, perfect. But then at lunch I go in the office bathroom and look in the mirror and it looks like I never even put any on. This mascara, however? This mascara is the shit. It makes me look like I’m wearing fake eyelashes, in the best possible way.
Folle de Joie eau de parfum This is my new scent. Hands down. Obsessed. And the bottle is so, so pretty. Other scents I’ve loved if you want to know if we have the same taste: Kate Spade Twirl, Ralph Lauren Blue.
English Laundry Notting Hill Eau de Parfum I haven’t tried this. It’s men’s cologne. The little bottle is nice-looking, though it’s plastic and arrived a little dented. I’m assuming this would only be true for the sample size.
Hanz de Fuko Quicksand This pomade is interesting. The idea is that you use it when your hair is already kind of dirty, which goes against everything I believe about pomade. I do have a super short pixie cut so I use pomade regularly anyway. This stuff is a little sticky.
PRORASO Shaving Cream I obviously didn’t use this on my face so I can’t speak to that, but it was great for shaving my legs! The packaging is cool and vintage-y and the smell is subtle and masculine.
The holidays are quickly approaching and there are only a few weeks of shopping left! To help you find something for everyone on your list, Layla Grayce is offering 15% off holiday gifts through 12/15 with promo code HOLIDAYS. Here are a few of the things on my list.
Are you a cake person or a pie person? There IS a right answer.
Pies seem like a great thing to bring to holiday parties but when you travel by train like I do, carrying a pie in your hands is a lot more trouble than it’s worth. This amazingly adorable handcrafted, reusable pine box from PieBox is the answer to your pie-carrying needs.