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Maximizing Holiday Gift Card Promos

While I’m not a big Black Friday shopper there is one type of holiday deal I always look forward to. The restaurant gift card promo.  You know the one… “Buy a $100 gift card as a gift and get a $20 gift card for yourself”  Except I keep both gift cards for myself.

It’s no secret that I like to eat out.  I admit that we spend a lot of money eating out, and that’s fine because it’s mindful.  We cut spending in other areas so that we can afford to eat out.  It’s what we choose to spend our money on.  That’s the point of a budget, to make sure you are spending your money where you actually want to spend it.  But I’m getting off track…

Where was I?  Oh, yes… the gift cards.

We try to take advantage whenever one of our favorite places has the buy one get one gift cards.  If it’s a place where we know we will spend the $100 gift card then the $20 is free money.  By the end of December we usually have $200 or $300 in gift cards to our favorite places, plus another $40 or $60 in free eating out.

Obviously it’s not a good deal if you aren’t 100% sure that you are going to use it in a fairly short period of time.  For one thing the free $20 gift card usually needs to be used within a certain time frame.  So if you let the time pass then the whole thing is just a wash, and for that I’d rather just keep my money.  Also, I don’t want to use it just to use it.  I want to pay for a meal I was going to have anyways.  If I have to make a special trip then it’s not really free money.  If that makes sense.  I mean, a free meal out is nice, but I’m looking to save money on something I was going to buy anyways.  If I have to make a special trip to use the free gift card then, again, I’d rather not have my cash tied up in a gift card it’s going to take me a year to use.

Gift Card Hack of the Year

One of our most favorite restaurants is having the buy $100 get $20 deal but this one was extra special.  You see, for this place we buy $100 gift cards online for $80.  This is a regular thing.  We had a fresh $100 gift card in our pocket when we sat down for a delicious meal.  (For which, we had paid $80)  I saw the table sign that said they were having their annual gift card deal.  I jokingly said that we should buy a $100 gift card to get the $20 and use the gift card we had in our pocket to pay.  haha… hey, that’s not a bad idea!  So we asked the waitress if we could do that.

She said yes.

Score!  So for $80 we got $120 worth of dining at our favorite spot.  I do feel a little bit bad about it since I feel like I gamed the system on this one.  I doubt they would have given us the deal if they had known that we didn’t pay full price for the first gift card.  We didn’t lie… we said we bought it online and that it wasn’t purchased as part of the holiday deal.  But still…

What’s your favorite holiday hack?

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