You’re finished with Christmas shopping. You’ve bought your family and friends presents from Apple, Macy’s, Home Depot, J.Crew, Amazon and Best Buy.
And they all fit in your wallet.
We like to give gift cards. The average consumer spent $145.61 last year on gift cards, up from $139.91 in 2009, according to the National Retail Federation.
We like to receive gift cards, too.
More than half of adults surveyed last year said they would like to receive gift cards as presents, and that number is growing year over year, the federation says. (Clark Howard tip: Don’t pay full price for gift cards.)
This year, the top three most requested gift cards are from Walmart, Target and Amazon, according to GiftCardGranny.com, while gas companies Shell and Exxon made it onto the list at No. 5 and No. 14, respectively.
During tough economic times, utilitarian gift cards for basic necessities, such as gasoline, can be a lifeline for some people, says Luke Knowles of GiftCardGranny.
“Grocery gift cards would be great to give cash — without giving cash — and actually help them out a lot.”
You can even send gift cards to military members overseas via ShopMyExchange.com. The cards are redeemable at Army, Navy or Marine Corps exchange facilities worldwide.
It’s also becoming more common to buy gift cards with bonuses attached.
Some Atlanta-area restaurants are offering an array of extras when you purchase a gift card this season.
Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, which includes Chops and Buckhead Diner, is giving patrons an additional 20 percent on the purchase of a dining card.
Here to Serve Restaurants, which includes Twist and Shout, will give you $20 for every $100 you spend on gift cards. You’ll find similar offers from others, including RA Sushi, Ray’s Restaurants, Smashburger, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, Chepe’s Mexican Grill and Marlow’s Tavern.
And new this year is Gift Card Exchange Day, an event created by GiftCardGranny for buyers and sellers to meet online at the most opportune time: Dec. 26.
According to Knowles, the purpose of the event is to encourage people to sell unwanted gift cards: A seller can immediately pocket some cash, or somebody who’d like the card can buy it at a discount.
“The average household has $300 in gift cards that’s unused right now,” Knowles says.
“That might pay groceries for some family that lives paycheck to paycheck. So if we can get the money into their hands and out of the coffers of big retailers, that would be awesome.”
– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter