My Forever Gift Cards – The Ones I Just Can’t Finish Off
I love a deal, especially on goods or services I normally consume. Sometimes, a deal is so good to me, that I’ll admittedly go after it even if it isn’t the exact item I would normally consume. My favorite deal category is probably discounted gift cards. This deal type is consistently available and relatively quick to complete. I’m not a reseller, but I’m fairly active in buying and using discounted gift cards to save money on everyday living expenses and some splurges. I periodically review my gift card files (yes, I use a filing system), and I keep seeing some that I’ve had for years. Why not go through these forever gift cards and the various reasons I still haven’t used them up?
Steak ‘n Shake
I obtained these gift cards a few years back when they were 25% off at Sam’s Club. Previously, I had only seen restaurant gift cards up to 20% off at Sam’s, and I thought 25% off was a good deal for a burger joint I enjoyed every now and then. Little did I know that 25% off became the new standard for Sam’s extreme value gift cards. About one year after I bought the $50 Gift Card for $37.50, all of the Steak ‘n Shake locations in my area closed. I figured I’d end up visiting locations when I traveled elsewhere, but of course other local restaurants took priority. No surprise, I still have plenty of money left on the card.
I enjoy visiting a small movie theater nearby, but they don’t end up screening every film I want to see. Alas, I’ve normally ended up at Regal for years. My favorite move has been Tuesday night (the cheap ticket night) for the late show, often with my own theater. I normally consume a $25 gift card normally over several months, so I picked up another late last year. Buying a $5 off $25 Regal gift card, plus 4x fuel points, late last year seemed to make sense. A global pandemic wasn’t within the realm of possibility to me as I bought said gift card. This one sits within the file in pristine, unused condition.
Cold Stone Creamery
I picked up Cold Stone gift cards at Costco four or five years ago. Okay, I didn’t pick them up – they were emailed to me. This may sound silly, but the fact that there’s no actual card is a big reason I haven’t used this one up. Instead, I have a barcode and long gift card number stretched across a wrinkled piece of printer paper. Not exactly an item I keep in mind. Hopefully, I use this thing before it looks more like a centuries-old artifact than a gift card.
Several years back, I bought Speedway gift cards on Ebay for 8% off sticker price. This was during the heyday of Ebay stacking. I would track through a cash back portal to buy gift cards (Speedway, in this example) on Ebay while earning Ebay bucks and paying with a discounted Ebay gift card. Others had even more convoluted, lucrative strategies. Again, I’m not a reseller, so I bought a healthy amount for personal use. Since then, we relocated to another region which has less convenient Speedway locations.
On top of that, I do earn Kroger fuel points and enjoy using those (to an extent). I am spending down the Speedway gift cards on fuel, just not at the speed I prefer. They’ve come in handy as gifts for family members and use at my favorite location, the Speedway close by Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. I should have these finished up relatively soon.
Similar to Steak ‘n Shake, I got a 25% deal on Fuddrucker’s cards at Sam’s Club. I vividly recall enjoying Fuddrucker’s from my youth, and we’ve visited annually up until a few years ago. We only have one (inconvenient) location left in our area, though. I need to finish this one up, as they’ve been shutting down properties for years.
I consolidated all value on one Hotels.com gift card after I bought several $50 gift cards that each came with a $15 bonus a few years ago, effectively ~23% off Hotels.com rates. We’ve ended up using other chains’ hotel points for most stays since, and the pandemic has made this card unnecessary this year. Maybe it’s just me, but many times I’m on Hotels.com, find great rates, then lose motivation and use other points currencies. I’ll get around to using the card, but I’m not quite sure when.
Visa Gift Cards
I have a countless number of VGC’s with a penny or two on them. I feel like I could build a second home with them. Of course, I’ll never go to the effort of squeezing every last drop from these cards. I’m sure I’m not alone here. They’ll be trashed soon enough.
Forever Gift Cards – Conclusion
Overall, I feel I’ve done a productive job of consuming all of the gift cards I’ve purchased. But breakage risk is always out there. An even bigger risk I see is loading gift cards to online merchant accounts. I need that visual reminder that the gift cards need to be used. Of course, organization helps, but at a certain level the benefits of discounted gift cards are outweighed by the potential risks. It’s key to identify your level of comfort with this, and all other, aspects of the hobby. What are your forever gift cards? Will you ever use them?