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The Hacky (but Easy) Way I Save Money at Whole Foods, Starbucks, Target, and More

You know that saying, a penny saved is a penny earned? As you’re about to see, I take it very, very literally. If I can easily save a buck or three, I’m going to do it. My husband is the same way, so we take great joy in logging onto sites like CardCash and Cardpool.

These sites (and others like them) sell a wide assortment of discounted gift cards. People get them for, say, a birthday or holiday, and decide they won’t ever put them to good use. So these recipients sell the cards to the sites (for less than face value) and then the site turns around and sells them to savvy shoppers like me (also for less than face value).

When I first heard of these sites a few years ago, I was quick to write them off as a scam. What if I get a card that’s actually blank? I worried to no one. I eventually got over it and I’m happy to report that we have never had an issue of a card coming in for less than the advertised amount. (Note: Sometimes you get a physical gift card and other times you get an electronic one, and the sites make it clear, so you know what you’re buying.)

I bet you’re wondering what sort of savings we get on these sites. And I have to warn you that it’s not a huge amount. For the most part, though, there are plenty of exceptions — it’s $2.50 here and $4 there. (Save seven percent here and nine percent there.) But would you turn down free money?

We’ll often buy discounted gift cards for Starbucks (a $25 gift card can cost $22.50), Whole Foods (a $30 card can cost $28.35), Target (a $100 gift card can cost $91), and more. We’ll then use the card to shop at these establishments the way we normally would. Right off the bat, we’ve saved money. And we can save even more if the store is running a sale or you happen to have a coupon or promo code. Also, there’s something about paying with a gift card that makes the purchase feel less painful.

Sometimes we’ll even check these sites when we’re making a special purchase. For example, the other week we were finally getting around to framing some art that we bought for our kitchen. Custom frames are expensive, so we checked CardCash. Sure enough, Michael’s was on there (save up to 16.8 percent, the site advertised!) and we were able to get a few $50 gift cards for $41.65. The store was also having a sale, so in total, we saved more than $100!

This is clearly not going to make us (or you, sorry) rich, but it can save us a few bucks. And it’s not like it’s hard to buy some gift cards.

Have you ever tried any of these gift card sites? What’d you think?

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