Do you have just a small balance left to spend on a store gift card? It doesn’t have to go to waste!
There are several ways to use up small balances on store gift cards. (For prepaid gift cards, see this post.)
Here are your options:
Cash-Out Your Store Gift Card
If you live in a state with a cash-out gift card law and your balance is low enough, you can ask the original issuer to give you cash for the rest.
The amounts you need to qualify for cash-out varies by state, so check your state law. It can range 99 cents to $10, or a percentage of the original value of the card. (If you’re lucky, the info may also be printed on the back of the card.)
States with some form of cash-out gift card law include: California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Washington.
Use It Up in Person or Over the Phone
If you’ve got the physical gift card with you, you can use up even a few cents very easily so long as you’ve figured out the exact remaining balance on the store gift card.
When you go to check out, just say that you want to use multiple payment methods. It’s not weird, and they are used to people doing that.
Give them the gift card or gift card number first, and tell them how much to charge on that. Then give them another form of payment for the balance of your purchase.
This is by far the easiest way to use up a small store gift card balance.
Reload Your Store Gift Card
I know, you want to use it up. But if you go to the store often and they offer reloadable store cards, it may be easier to reload.
Because you will use it up eventually!
It’s especially useful for places like Starbucks or fast food restaurants. Then rather than having multiple gift cards to juggle, you can just have one.
Pass It On
I have fun using up the rest of store gift cards this way:
I buy whatever I was going to buy, and then pass on the card to the person behind me in line. I tell them there’s a little bit left that I’m not going to use, so they may as well.
Why not brighten someone’s day AND get rid of that last little bit at the same time?
You can also usually donate them to charity, as long as the balance is at least $1.
Finally — and especially if the store gift card is for somewhere you don’t go to — you can sell it.
(Gift Card Granny is also one of the deals apps that can help save you money.)
The downside to selling your gift card is that you’ll get less than the remaining value. That’s because people buying them are looking for a deal. Still, it’s better than never using it up or tossing it.