A Guide to Making the Most of Your Gift Card

Gift Card


Gift cards are a major force in the modern retail economy, offering convenience and flexibility. While cash and checks are still accepted in some places, they are quickly being replaced by plastic cards in the form of gift cards and store loyalty cards. Those who take advantage of these easy-to-use, widely accepted cards can enjoy a host of benefits, but they should also be aware of their risks and liabilities. In this article, we'll explore the features, benefits, and potential pitfalls of using plastic gift cards.

Features of Plastic Gift Cards

Plastic gift cards come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and denominations. They are usually printed with a special and unique security code, making them impossible to duplicate.

Gift cards can be purchased in any store that sells them, or online through a store's website. The purchaser can then choose the desired denomination, or they can buy a pre-loaded gift card. Plastic gift cards are also reloadable, so they can be topped up with additional funds if desired.

Benefits of Plastic Gift Cards

The main advantage of using plastic gift cards is convenience. Consumers don't need to carry large amounts of cash around, and they can easily access their funds without worrying about losing or misplacing them.

Gift cards are also great for gifting to others, as they can be loaded up with any desired amount. Plus, the recipient can spend their gift in any store that accepts them. Other benefits include lower associated costs for merchants, as plastic gift cards don't require the processing costs associated with other types of payments like checks or credit and debit cards.

Pros Cons

As with any type of payment, using gift cards comes with both advantages and disadvantages.


Easy to use


Can be used to make purchases in any store that accepts them

Can be reloaded and topped up with additional funds

Great for gift-giving


Cannot be refunded

Fees may be charged for use, reloading, or inactivity

Accounts can be hacked, making them vulnerable to fraudulent activity

Sometimes difficult to track current balance

Case Studies

Savvy Shopper

Sally is a savvy shopper who loves finding the best deals. She takes full advantage of plastic gift cards, using them to pay for purchases when discounted cards are available online. She regularly checks sites like CardCash, CardPool and Raise for discounted gift cards up to 35% off from retailers like eBay and Home Depot. She also uses them to purchase items from her favorite online stores.


John is a professional traveler with a busy career and few chances to shop locally. He relies on plastic gift cards to buy items from stores around the world, eliminating the need to carry currency. He is also a fan of rewards programs, so he often uses cards with miles or points to help him save on future trips.


Can gift cards be refunded?

No, gift cards cannot be refunded. They must be used to purchase merchandise or services.

Are there fees associated with using gift cards?

Yes, some issuers may charge a fee for purchase, reloading, or if the card is left inactive for a certain period of time. Make sure to always read the terms and conditions before purchasing a gift card.

How do I check my balance?

You can check your balance online or by calling the card issuer. Some stores may also offer balance checks in-store.

Mistakes People Make

One of the biggest mistakes people make when using gift cards is not checking the balance beforehand. It may seem obvious, but it's surprisingly easy to forget to check your balance before using your card. Doing so can be embarrassing if you don't have enough funds on the card to cover the purchase.

Another mistake is keeping the card active after the balance has been used up. Most issuers charge inactivity fees, so make sure to deactivate the card once it's been used.

Best Practices

The best way to maximize the use of plastic gift cards is to read the terms and conditions before purchasing one. Always check the balance before using the card, and be aware of potential fees associated with its use. Additionally, be sure to deactivate the card once its been used. Finally, consider taking advantage of discounted cards online, as this can be a great way to save money.

Final Notes

Plastic gift cards offer a convenient and secure way to pay for goods and services. They are accepted in many stores and online, and they can be reloaded for added convenience. While they do come with certain risks and fees, consumers can avoid these pitfalls by reading the terms and conditions and taking advantage of discounts when available.