Frugal Hack #12: How to Buy Discounted Gift Cards

September 9, 2013 by Kyle

I love myself a gift card. The flexibility. The ability to buy what I actually want. Some consumers find them lazy gifts but I would disagree. If you are gift shopping and you know someone loves a particular store, but don’t know what they already own, then a gift card makes a very thoughtful gift.

But the point of this frugal hack is not to convince you to buy gift cards. The point is to show you a few techniques to get them cheap and below the actual “face-value” of the card. It’s essentially free money. Here are a few of my favorites:

Gift Card

Gift Card Granny
~ Gift Card is run by my buddy Luke Knowles and is a great stop for not only buying discounted gift cards but also selling them if you have no use for them. They currently have over 50,000 gift cards available in their marketplace from hundreds of different retailers. A few discounted cards that caught my eye include 23% off gift cards at American Eagle, 25% off at Cabela’s, 14% off at Starbucks, and up to 17% off Sports Authority gift cards. It is also worth noting that gift cards come with 100% buyer protection to insure you’re getting what you think you’re getting.

The other cool side of a site like Gift Card Granny is they allow you to sell unwanted gift cards collecting dust in your desk drawer. Examples include a Starbucks gift card when you gave up caffeine 5 years ago. Or a $50 card for Best Buy from uncle Lou after your child is born when you really could use a Walmart gift card instead. Last time I checked Best Buy doesn’t sell Huggies, so just sell your card and get some much-needed cash. It appears you can get $70-$80 back on a $100 gift card.

Always Check

eBay AEO Gift Card
~ Another way to make a nice profit is to buy gift cards directly from sellers on For example, in the above auction you can bid on a $184 American Eagle gift card for just over $120. With just 4 hours left on the auction and by examining the ‘Competed Listings’, you’re going to be able to score the gift card for less than $150. The nice thing about buying gift cards this way is you can still combine them with an online coupon. This is an important point because many shoppers will buy coupons on eBay but they can only use one per purchase. So by buying a discounted gift card then combining it with a coupon, you get twice the savings. Well worth the effort, especially on larger purchases.

Credit Card Reward Programs

Rewards Gift Cards
~ I have a Bank of America credit card and up until 3 years ago I had no idea my card was enrolled in a rewards program. When I finally discovered this, I had accumulated over 20,000 points. With my points I was able to redeem several $100 gift cards. I had a huge selection of cards to pick from, including restaurants, popular clothing retailers, and even gasoline. I ended up getting a $100 Outback gift card and was able to take my wife out to dinner on two separate date nights. I also got a $100 Starbucks gift card and for the first time in my life I didn’t feel guilty buying a $4 cup of coffee. Although I usually go for the $1.50 regular ol’ cup of Joe. The point of all of this is to verify if your credit card is enrolled in a rewards program. If they are, be sure to redeem the points every year as many programs will actually expire your accumulated points after a certain amount of time.

Always Check Costco

~ Are you aware that Costco (and Sam’s Club) often sell gift cards for less than face value? I wasn’t. For whatever reason, I would see all of the colorful gift cards perched in my local Costco and just assumed they were all for face value. But not the case!  For example, right now you can buy (4) $25 Baja Fresh gift cards for only $79.99. Other discounted gift cards you can typically find include floral retailers, movie theaters, and gym memberships. It is always worth a look when you shop as they constantly rotate their discounted cards.

Your turn! Are you a fan of gift cards? If so, have you found any ways to buy them for less than face value? I look forward to your comments.

By Kyle James

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Carol HinkleyKendal @HassleFreeSaverDaisy @ Prairie Eco ThrifterKarla TwomeyShannon @ The Heavy Purse Recent comment authors

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Mo' Money Mo' Houses

That’s awesome! I didn’t know you could buy or sell giftcards.


It’s pretty cool – great way to get a little extra savings.

Free Money Minute

I do this all the time. By the time you take the buy the discounted card and get your cash back on the credit card you used to buy the car, you already have 5-10% off of the item even before looking for coupons or sales with the retailer you are purchasing from. This makes perfect sense especially when buying everyday items like groceries.


Cool, so you buy gift cards for grocery stores like Safeway and Kroger’s? Great tip

DC @ Young Adult Money

I love Discover’s partner credit cards where you can use your cash back bonus for gift cards at less than face value. My wife and I have been taking advantage of it for quite some time now and it feels great to know we “made” money, even if it’s just $5 or $10 off a $25/$50 card. Then again, all the cash back rewards are “free” money for using the Discover Card so I guess I’m making more than I think 😉


Absolutely. I love using my credit card rewards for gift cards on restaurants as that is such a splurge for us.


I have sold gift cards on Ebay, but never bought one. If I need one, I try to buy them when you get 4x gas points at Kroger.


That is a great way to buy them – wish we had Kroger’s out here on the west coast!


I have seen gift cards on ebay before, but I’ve never heard of Gift Card Granny. That’s hilarious!


I know, kinda ironic huh. My Grandma would look at a gift card and say, “what the hell do I do with this!”

Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

I didn’t realize Costco sold some gift cards at less than retail value. That’s a fantastic tip! I’ll definitely have to check them out the next time I need some gift cards. It’s so easy to get in the habit of just going to the retailer to get the gift card that I don’t think about trying to find one at a discount and save a few dollars. Smart tip – thanks!


Thanks Shannon for coming by! It is also worth noting that Costco will often sell vacation packages and tickets for a nice discount. We recently bought Disneyland tickets through them and saved 20%.

Karla Twomey

Fabulous post! I really thought I knew it all about discounts, freebies, coupon codes, etc., but you have enlightened me! I did not know that Costco sold discount cards. And, you reminded me to log into my credit card rewards and see what brewing over there. It’s been a while 🙂 Thanks!!

Karla Twomey


Look at that, ya learn something new everyday! Thanks for coming by Karla.

Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter

Discounted gift cards make a lot of sense to save money. I always try to get discounted cards on travel options, because you’re able to save sometimes hundreds of dollars when travelling by using them. THanks for the information.

Kendal @HassleFreeSaver

Great post! I use GiftCardGranny all the time — I think it’s an awesome way to save money on gifts and everyday purchases. Great to pair with coupons for extra savings. Discount gift cards are still pretty foreign to most people so it’s great that you’re spreading the word!

Carol Hinkley
Carol Hinkley

Very useful post! I love using discounted gift cards to save – especially around the holidays. I always use comparison sites like Gift Card Granny and Gift Card Karma, so that I can get the best deals on gift cards!