Recently, I wrote about how I saved money on car insurance. This week, I’m going to discuss a website where you can save up to 20% at hundreds of stores. And possibly… recycle…a well-intended gift that you don’t want to use.
My grocery store regularly has a promotion offering a $50 gas card for $40 if you purchase at least $50 of groceries. With gas about $3.50 a gallon, that 20% discount brings the price down to 2.80 a gallon.Very nice…
So whenever that promotion was offered, I bought a $50 card for Hess, which typically has cheaper gas than other brands but has no locations where I live. Since I traveled regularly to St. Augustine, which has Hess, I planned to use the cards there.
You may have heard that Hess, which is the largest company operated gas retailer on the East Coast, is selling that part of its business to Marathon Petroleum. After the sale is completed, which is expected by the end of the year, all Hess stations will become Speedways, which is Marathon’s “secret” retail brand because it also sells gas at Marathon branded stations.
This is good news and bad news for me. Good news because Marathon, which is the largest of my investments in value, should see an increase in the value of its stock. Bad news because I still had $80 in Hess gas card value which could become worthless since I do not visit St. Augustine as much as I used to.
Theoretically, Marathon assumes all of Hess’ gas station liabilities and a gas card is a liability. The company has my money and until I redeem the outstanding value that same amount is booked each year as a liability when the company prepares its annual financial statement.
On the other hand, there probably are technical issues for Speedway to honor that liability. How will the information database that Hess has on its gas cards be transferred to Marathon / Speedway and be useable at their pumps?
Maybe it is impossible. Maybe they can get the balance information and issue a Speedway card, but there are no Speedways within 100 miles of where I live.
Since I did not want to lose that $80, I turned to my cyber granny…gift card granny. This website is a one stop clearinghouse for other websites which buy and sell gift cards at a discount. You enter the name of a merchant and learn what buying or selling a gift card from about a half dozen merchants will cost. They bought those gift cards from folks who received them as a present but only used a portion of the card and don’t plan to use the balance.
Not all merchants buy or sell all card brands. But all six were willing to buy that Hess card for between 80% to 90% of value, with most offers around 85%. Some merchants offer a choice of cash or an Amazon gift card and I was offered Amazon gifts cards from two for about 92% of value. Since I paid only $64 for that $80 because of the grocery store discount, I’d make a profit either way.
Now that Amazon has fulfillment centers in Florida, Amazon will have to collect sales tax from Florida customers. So now I may start doing business with merchants who have no presence in Florida if their prices will edge out Amazon after sales tax. So I chose cash.
If you choose cash, you can receive a check or “direct deposit” to your Paypal account. But, you’ll have to pay PayPal fees, so I chose a check.
I mailed my card to them on a Wednesday Since I live in Florida and they are in California, I didn’t expect anything more to happen by the end of the following Monday besides acknowledgment that the card was received and payment was processing.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I checked online Monday evening and learned that the check had been issued. I received it the following Monday. (I notice that now there are almost no offers to sell a Hess card, so I sold that card just in time.)
With that $72, I’m planning on buying gift cards to three stores, two of which I can leverage that discounted value for an additional discount.
One card I’m buying is Bealls. A card with about a $100 balance sells at a discount of about 20%. (Since most cards have been used, they have an uneven balance, like $117.32.) Bealls is about the only department store I shop at. I like its “Florida style” focus in clothing and housewares. (Florida style…op! op!)
But what really gets me into Bealls is its weekly “Senior Tuesdays” program of 15% discount to folks over 50. So by shopping on a Tuesday with a gift card that I bought at 20% discount, the total discount is at least 35%. And since the senior discount is good even on sale and clearance items, and I don’t buy much over $10 unless it’s on sale, the discount is usually more than 35%. (Senior discount style…op! op!)
The second store I’m buying a gift card to is Walgreens, which is the only drugstore I use for three reasons. First, they have a senior day once a month offering a 15% discount (20% on Walgreens brands) on non-sale items. Second, I belong to their rewards program and earn points which I can use to pay for my purchase instead of cash. And third, I own Walgreens stock so buying there is a form of paying myself.
The third gift card I’ll be buying is to my favorite “casual food” restaurant: Moe’s Southwest Grill. There are other burrito bars but Moe’s salsas are unrivaled. And free…unlike some others such as Chipolte.
And, Moe’s has a Godzilla portion of “it’s no longer on the menu but we’ll make it if you ask for it” Alfredo Garcia fajitas which I have to eat over two sittings. I’m talking “roll your own” grass-fed, hormone-free steak burritos with generous portions of grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, and grilled peppers to which I add lettuce, pico, cheese and fresh grated jalapeno. (“Welcome to Moe’s” style..op! op!)
Unfortunately, only one merchant carried Moe’s, with about fifteen cards at a discount of 12%. The reason is, I think, simple: almost everyone wants to use, not sell, a Moe’s card! At Christmas, Moe’s offers a $5 certificate for buying a $25 gift card. And each Christmas, I buy two $25 gift cards for myself but that $60 is gone before summer as I eat there every month.
I looked around the gift card granny site to what kind of deals they have. Since they have over 600 merchants to choose from, I only selected a few of the more recognized “national” stores as opposed to “regional” ones.
The number of cards available and discount has a wide range, from just a few cards to hundreds of cards and with discounts from below 5% to around 20%. Higher denominations tended to offer a high discount but not always. For example (and in alphabetical order… (Besides scanning the alphabetical listing of available gift cards or searching for a specific merchant, you can also browse according to selected categories, such as restaurants or department stores.)
There are some Amazon gift cards but since Amazon is popular the discount is under 5%. There were 300 Bed, Bath and Beyond cards but the discount was also under 5%.
Bruegger’s Bagels cards were discounted at about 17%, which isn’t too bad. There were 100 Dunkin’ Donuts cards at about 10% discount, which I think is too low because doughnuts are way overpriced.
I found almost 500 Family Dollar cards at about 7% discount. And almost 600 Penney’s cards with 15-20% discount for $50 value and 20% discount for $100 to $200. What does it say about Penney’s that Kohl’s cards are only discounted 3-5%?
If you like Olive Garden, their cards are discounted about 15%. Outback Steakhouse cards are discounted 12-14%. P.F. Chang’s, my favorite chain Chinese chain, is only discounted 10%.
(Tallhicky has no Chang’s but thank goodness one of the Vegas Strip casinos does because a favorite “meal” which Susie and I share is simple: lettuce wraps and…the six-layer, chocolate chip encrusted Great Wall of Chocolate, which I’m sure is next on New York Mayor Bloomberg’s list of foods to ban since it has 1,400 calories and 60 grams of fat.)
The discount on $50-$100 Payless Shoes cards is a healthy 23% but I’ve never found anything I like there so I don’t bother to go into the store anymore. (My idea of “pay less is Sperry Topsider leather deck shoes that had a price tag of $60 for just $11 on clearance at Beall’s after my senior discount.) There were 275 Ross cards from $50-$100 at 11% discount.
If you like Starbucks, you should visit granny, where I found 850 cards. The $25 cards are discounted about 16% and the $100 cards get you a 20% discount. One merchant had 100 $100 (exactly) cards for $80 and another merchant had maybe 10 $100 cards within 10 cents of $80.
T. J. Maxx cards numbered near 525 with discounts between 12%-16% for values between $50 and $200. I found 375 Walgreens cards with 11% discount on values of $40-$100.
Note that I’ve excluded offers from eBay, which reflected higher discounts but these are cards you have to bid on, so who knows what the “final” price will be. I don’t think those eBay offers should even be listed.
All gift card granny does is display who’s buying and selling what cards for what prices. If you want to buy or sell a card, you click on a link which takes you to the merchant and the transaction in completed there. I did notice that the link contains a referral number, so that’s how granny is making some money.
You can visit gift card granny here.
Now tell me…what discount gift card is in your wallet?