If you've been following Chief Family Officer for any length of time, you already know that I love discounted gift cards. But what I haven't shared yet is that I recently upped my game when it comes to saving money with them, because I discovered that I can buy discounted gift cards all the time at Raise.com.
Raise is a site that sells gift cards at a discount, usually in the 3% to 10% off range. You can also sell your gift cards on Raise, although I haven't done that.
The easiest way to illustrate the stacking of savings strategies is with an example:
I always use the Starbucks app to pay at Starbucks, because it's the easiest way to earn stars and therefore free rewards. For years, I bought Starbucks gift cards at Target using my REDcard, which gets me 5% off, or at Ralphs, where I get 5% back when I use my American Express card.
But a couple of months ago, after I learned about Raise, I started buying Starbucks gift cards there, because they're regularly 5% to 9% off. Going through Rakuten (formerly Ebates) gets me an additional 1% back. Plus I always try to wait for a sitewide code for an additional 5% to 7% off. The numbers worked out like this for a recent purchase:
Listed at $46.37 on Raise (about 6.5% off)
- $3.25 for 7% off sitewide code discount
- $0.43 for 1% cash back from Rakuten
Final Price: $42.69
A mere 5% discount would make my cost $47.50 for a $50 gift card, so going through Raise saved me an additional $4.81 on this particular gift card.
I've also started buying gift cards for Shutterfly to pay for the shipping costs on the freebies that I get there. And I now pause when making a purchase online to see if there's a gift card available.
For example, the last times I ordered food from PF Chang's and Panera Bread, I checked my total, then went to Raise to buy a discounted gift card for the nearest whole amount. So if my total was $32, I bought a $25 gift card for around $22 and paid the difference with my credit card. That resulted in a savings of $3 for just a couple of minutes of effort.
For other retailers, like Macy's or GAP, imagine how much you would save if you shopped a sale, used a coupon, and paid with a discounted gift card!
However, I caution against using a discounted gift card if you think you might return something. Sometimes companies are difficult about returns, particularly if the purchase was made with a gift card. I've also read that companies sometimes refund the original gift card, which means you need to be able to retrieve it. I just don't think the risk is worth the savings.
Since you're buying gift cards from a third-party at Raise, I suggest sticking to whole, round numbers that end in 0 or 5, because I've read that they are more likely to be legitimate. Raise does offer a one-year money-back guarantee on gift cards that don't match the description (e.g., a $40 balance on a gift card listed at $50), but I've never had an issue so I've never contacted their customer service.
One downside about Raise is that they may not have the gift card you want in stock, or at the value you need. But they do seem to restock regularly.
There's also a Raise app that I want to test some time, with the idea of buying a gift card while I'm out and about. For instance, if I'm dining at PF Chang's, I could wait to see what my total is, then buy a gift card in the Raise app, and use it to pay for my meal.
One final note: Like Rakuten, Mr. Rebates offers cash back on Raise, but I had issues with it being credited. This doesn't seem to happen at Rakuten, so I stick with them for my Raise purchases (and I've never had issues with other retailers at Mr. Rebates).
If you try any of these tips, let me know it worked for you, and how much you saved!
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