Here’s How I’ve Saved Over $2,000 By Purchasing Discounted Gift Cards
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Jamie, Collin’s Hip Sidekick here!
I love to save money with Raise.com discounted gift cards (and I’ve learned some incredible tips – and expensive lessons – along the way when it comes to using them).
I used to think gift cards were dumb gifts your weird relatives re-gifted you for special occasions (and usually to places you don’t shop). But as I got older and grew addicted to finding the best deals for my own family, I quickly warmed up to the notion that discounted gift cards are like free money – if you know the ins and outs of using them.
Now that I’ve saved over $2,000 using Raise.com (see above), I’m never turning back! Keep reading to save 10% off of your first Raise.com order.
How does Raise.com work?
Raise.com is a marketplace for private individuals to buy and sell gift cards, but they also work with major retailers so you buyers get a large selection to choose from. Raise members can list gift cards and/or merchandise credits from any brand or restaurant on the site. Once the card sells, a small fee of 10% is deducted from the total payout.
Other sites also sell discounted gift cards, but I’ve had limited experiences with them and nothing I’ve found so far beats Raise for convenience, savings, and customer service.
Reasons I love Raise.com
- Savings. In addition to saving over $2,000 since 2014 with Raise.com, the image [above] shows I can save up to 52% on everything from consumer goods to restaurants and attractions.
- Top notch customer service. Any time I have ever had issues with a gift card, someone has always been there to help. One tip – a phone call resolves issues fastest. Email is slowest.
- Digital platform. You can buy physical gift cards, but most of them arrive digitally to your Raise app’s mobile wallet, which saves paper and makes using them incredibly simple.
- User-friendly platform. Whether you’re mobile or on your desktop, you can search for deals alphabetically, by highest discounted cards, most popular brands, and your saved favorites.
- Works with online sites, too. I check for cards on stores existing solely online often (like Groupon, and Brylane).
- Works anywhere there’s wifi. This means whether you’re shopping from home or you’re at the mall, you can buy (and redeem) Raise.com gift cards as you need them.
- 365-day protection. If you buy a card that doesn’t work (and you know there’s a balance on it), you’ll get back the amount you spent on the card (or the balance, minimally). That said, if you bought $300 in Victoria’s Secret gift cards and decided you don’t want to buy that many bras, you’re out of luck, so be smart (check out what to do below when that happens).
- It’s like extra stacked savings. There are limits to the number of coupons and promo codes I can use, so gift cards are another way to layer on additional savings.
- You can buy from one partner brand to save on another. Some partner brands let you use gift cards at all store under their umbrella, so look for the biggest discount. As an example Pottery Barn Kids may give you a higher discount than Pottery Barn, but you can use either card at either location, so shop those affiliate brands before buying.
Hip Tip: Before you buy, confirm with the store/brand that they accept gift cards from other partner brands. Despite Raise claims, I once bought a Lane Bryant card that did NOT translate to Catherine’s.
Tips for success when using discounted gift cards
For best success using discounted gift cards from Raise.com, I always use these methods when shopping in the store and online.
To use discounted gift cards online:
- Place items you plan to buy in your online cart.
- Apply promo codes and coupons for a final amount (remembering shipping and applicable sales tax).
- Buy Raise.com discounted voucher or Egift cards in a slightly smaller amount than needed.
- Apply gift card code(s) + pin(s) at checkout.
- Pay the overage with your credit card.
To use discounted gift cards in the store:
- Place items you plan to buy in your cart.
- Tally the total cost of items, minus coupons (don’t forget applicable sales tax).
- Buy Raise.com discounted voucher cards in a slightly smaller amount than needed. (Note: digital Raise.com cards can take up to 24 hours for email delivery, but most of my cards arrive instantly. Physical cards take upwards of a week).
- Apply coupons and gift card code(s) + pin(s) at checkout.
- Pay the overage with your credit card or with cash.
Hip Tip: As with coupons, if I have MULTIPLE gift cards for a large purchase (especially if the codes have to be applied one at a time), I let my friendly cashier know up front and am super patient.
My best gift card purchases and how I made them
While I’ve had great luck with my Raise.com gift card purchases (stack McDonald’s cards on top of app savings? Yes, thanks), these two recent examples of stacked savings thanks to my discounted gift cards really paid off.
I recently shopped a FullBeauty brand clearance sale [receipt pictured above] where all tops were marked down (50% off) + added promotions (shown in red). I applied my $50 Raise.com Egift (online only) cards (20% off, so it only cost $40) on the remaining amount. By the end, for $200 in retail goods, I paid only $79.25 (with shipping)! I saved a total of $121.75, $10 of that from my gift card! Shazam!
In store: Cabela’s
During Black Friday last year, the Cabela’s store had items I wanted that were marked down a whopping 30% (from roughly $3,300 retail). I purchased most of the amount in Raise.com voucher (digital) gift cards at 12% off. Then I paid any remaining overage not covered by the cards (about $200) with my Amazon rewards Visa. My total savings? 30% (discount) + 12% (gift cards) = roughly $1,500 ($264 saved with Raise).
Tips for buying and using discounted gift cards:
If there are wins and womp womp moments to be made with discounted gift cards, I’ve made ALL of them at LEAST once (sometimes twice). Some of them were pretty expensive mistakes I don’t want you to make and wins you oughtta have, so here are my favorite tips I share with my friends:
- Check your gift card balance on retail brand sites. Check your Victoria’s Secret gift card [as an example, pictured above] on the Victoria’s Secret Gift Card page as soon as the cards arrive (like I did), and then again before you plan to use them (especially when you’ve held onto them for some time). As you can see, I still have a balance of $112.35.
- Use cards before they expire. According to MarketWatch, one billion dollars in gift cards go unused every year. When you’re close to the year mark, use your gift cards.
- Buy less than the amount you need. Buy less than you need to cover the price of the purchase. There’s nothing more annoying than having $1.87 left over on a purchase. I ended up spending much more than that just to use that money later – especially for online purchases where shipping and minimum orders come into play.
- Buy cards in whole dollar amounts. A Raise.com employee once told me cards with a total value ending in odd cent amounts are more likely to be fraudulent cards sold by unscrupulous private sellers. To be safe, buy the gift cards with a total (not discounted) value of $5, $20, or $150 and not the ones with total values like $4.85, $35.29, or $188.87.
- Shop cards when they’re least desirable. To have the best shot at higher-value discounted cards, I look for restaurant cards on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, since most folks go out on the weekends. (Check back often, however, since you never know when new cards come up for sale.)
- Set up email alerts. Raise emails you when your brand shows up at the discount you want. Act fast, though. Some deals (like 20% off at Kohl’s) disappear really fast.
- Avoid a bad internet connection. Some stores have the WORST internet connection, which is super inconvenient when I want to bring up my Raise.com app wallet or make a Raise.com purchase in the store. When that happens, I leave the store (or the mall) to get reception in the parking lot and then walk back in. A tip? If you anticipate this issue, either print out the gift card vouchers at home (in advance) or screenshot your codes on your phone to use at checkout from the parking lot before heading to the register.
- Get expiration reminders. Have cards you’re hanging onto (or forgot to use)? While my Raise.com account shows me how long ago I purchased my card [see above], I won’t receive alerts when they’re about to exit Raise’s 1-year guarantee. So I set a Google alert to remind me one month before they expire.
- Know your wait times for purchased gift cards. A physical card comes by mail and can take about a week to arrive. Digital cards (voucher and Egift) typically arrive within 24 hours, although mine typically arrive right away (between 5 – 60 minutes).
- Know the card types/uses. While you’re at it, pay close attention to whether cards are listed as physical, voucher, or Egift before buying or you’ll be stuck using them a particular way. Physical cards can be used online and instore. Vouchers can be used online and instore and can be printed (or a code can be pulled from your digital Raise.com wallet). Egift/online vouchers only can be used online.
- Use caution gifting discounted cards. There’s a year guarantee on every card, but it might be embarrassing if your recipient’s card doesn’t work. (Also, it might look tacky to friends or relatives if your recipient knew you gave them a discounted gift card.) I give these cards to my kids, but only after I check the balances prior to gifting them.
- Read the fine print on Raise.com special sales/offers. Finally, Raise occasionally advertises deals like “Spend $300 on back to school and get 10% off sitewide”. What the small print actually means, however, is, “Spend $300 this week, and you can take 10% off on a later purchase, with a maximum savings of $20.” Be sure and read all the fine print on any offer so you won’t be surprised by limitations after it’s too late.
Try Raise.com for yourself and get 10% off your first purchase:
New customers: For a limited time, get $10 off your first discounted gift card order using code FIRST at checkout (max savings $20). Please note, this offer is for one-time use only and is only valid on customers’ first Raise orders. This offer cannot be combined with other offers. One per household.
I purchase grocery store gift cards through Raise all the time. I’m usually able to get Safeway cards for 5% off. And I go through swagbucks to get an extra 1% (sometimes 2%) back in sb.
Wow on scoring those 5% off cards for Safeway. I sure miss Safeway! Thanks so much for sharing, Joan!
Oh WOW! I love this tip about grocery store gift cards! Thank YOU!
We bought cards through Raise and unfortunately did not have the good experience you did. We had zero balances on two gift cards we bought at Panera. Super embarrassing to be told this by the cashier with other customers waiting behind me.
Calling Raise customer service was a nightmare–very long wait times. Just a super frustrating experience. I’d rather find easier ways to save that don’t make my blood pressure go up!
Hi, Bunny! I’m sorry you had a bad experience! I’ve had a couple of cards not work as well, and it can be super frustrating, especially when you’re in public. Raise always got the money back to me right away when that happened. Even with a few of these gaffes, it’s been so worth it for the savings. I really have had good luck with customer service, too. I’d highly recommend emailing if you don’t have time for a phone call.
Hi Bunny, we apologize for the issues you had redeeming your card! Our 1 year guarantee typically covers incidents like this so hopefully we were able to resolve this for you right away. We always want to ensure you have the most positive experience on Raise so if you ever have any issues reaching us via phone or our member services email, please feel free to reach out to us via a direct message on Facebook or at Social@raise.com, we are always happy to help!
I have a Pier 1 Imports gift card but Raise won’t accept it. What other companies buy and sell gift cards?
Hi Lori, we are sorry you had issues selling your card! For Pier 1 we do accept physical cards but unfortunately we are restricted from listing any of the online cards. While not always ideal, sometimes there are restrictions put in place for select brands. If you have any questions or need any further assistance please feel free to reach out to us at Social@raise.com, we are always happy to help!
Be very careful with Starbucks if you do purchase from second hand seller do not add to your existing account. If it comes back that a card you put on your account was purchased fraudulently Starbucks can close your account with all your money on it. My check card was used fraudulently and they purchased a ton of Starbucks gift card apparently several scams people use with them. I have used Raise successfully for Domino’s and Barnes and Nobles gift card but I did use them within minutes of receiving.
One thing to keep in mind is that when you use a credit card at a store or online, you get certain protections that you lose if you buy a gift card. That’s fine for consumables or commodities, but if you’re buying a pricey, more durable item, consider if a couple percent savings is worth having no avenue for dispute or warranty.
I also had problems with gift cards with a zero balance. I gave several to family members as gifts only to be super embaresd when they told me…yes they are often guaranteed but why go thru the trouble to use it somewhere or gift it to have no funds then wait for a refund…no thanks
Hi, Dee! I agree that buying gift cards online as gifts might be a problem unless the recipient knows to possibly expect to reach out to you in case things go wrong. I gift them to my kids who know the drill. And because of Raise’s 1-year guarantee, I always get my money back if something goes wrong.
Very interesting information. I was burned on a card for payless shoe source, but it was a card that ended in cents. I see in the notes that it is not recommended to buy those so that is good info. For example, Fandango GC’s only come ending in cents right now, so those are likely fraudulent?
difference between likely fraudulent and Possibly fradulent, think most people buy gift cards in even amounts like $25.00 or $50.00, ending in change just means the card has probably been used at least once before, it may even be saved to someone’s online or app account where they may purposefully or accidentally use it even after selling, like how target saves gift cards
Hi, Amanda! I wouldn’t say those are necessarily fraudulent, but I tend to be a little more skeptical when the dollar amount on the card ends in odd cents. Sometimes, if it’s an amazing deal, I’ll buy anyway and then just reach out to Raise in the rare events the card didn’t work.
Ditto to the people who have said they have bought useless GC. I bought one for a special dinner for my family at PF Changs. I used it for a small purchase prior the next time I tried to use it, the entire balance had been used somewhere else. I was never able to recover the money. It does not speak very well for how they screen the suppliers that this has happened to so many!
Hi Mima, we are very sorry for the issues you encountered when using your card! We do have our 1 year guarantee in place to help protect our members from incidents like this so can you please email us directly at Social@raise.com so we can look into this further for you?
thanks for your reviews.
We had a bad experience with Raise also. Purchased Carnival gift cards to apply towards our cruise fare and the gift cards came back reported stolen! It was a huge mess and we have never purchased gift cards from them again.
Same here….I have been buying Rite Aid gift cards for a couple years on Raise. Then all of a sudden, my last three orders all had zero balances or weren’t shipped at all. Customer service was great the first two times. But the third time, they had me send the gift card back and it has now been three weeks and they still haven’t refunded my money. SUPER frustrating!
Hi Lisa, we apologize for the issues you had using your Rite Aid cards! Can you please email us directly at Social@raise.com so we can look into this further for you and get this resolved right away?
I’ve been using Raise on a regular basis for a couple of years now. I’ve never had a negative experience. That said I’ve never had a gift card delivered via US mail. I buy and use online. I have bought PF Chang’s GCs twice from my cell, while we were at the restaurant and had no trouble either time. Don’t forget to check Ebates for Raise cash back!
Heidi I also purchased online, not gift cards through the US mail. But glad you had a good experience.
Since we got burned twice in a row, we’re staying very far away.
I receive about one-third of my gift cards by mail, and they’ve been great! I’m glad you have had good experiences, too!
I have bought discounted cards from other sites – cardcash.com & card pool.com. There is always risk that when you buy these gc that are resold, they may not have anything on them. No way to avoid this. It’s the nature of the business. Out of probably over 100 gc’s that I have bought, maybe 5 were no good. I did get my money back. However, like the tip mentioned, check balance when you get it and also before you use it. Also use it right away. The longer you wait, the more likely it will give you a problem. Final tip: do not give these as gifts. Use them yourself. It is embarrassing to give this to someone and they have an issue.
I only used it twice but didn’t have a problem with it but mine were online also.
I have had great experiences buying some Ecards online, although the cashier in the store did take a while to figure it out. Why are you suggesting to buy a slightly lower value than your purchase and to pay the rest yourself?
Hi, Michelle! Having a balance on a card is annoying for me, so I’d rather be able to use the card up than try to spend a small gift card balance. If you have money left over, you’re also more likely to forget about it and lose the money.
I got tired of getting ripped off by sellers on RAISE. I’d go to the store after purchasing a card, or go out to dinner, then find out the card had been used between the time I purchased it and the time i tried to use it. Yes, RAISE would refund my purchase when I called to report the problem, but it just got to be too frequent of an occurrence. Especially when I ended up having to pay full price for a meal all too often.
We buy gift cards from Swagbucks and earn points.
Eeeek! Thanks for these comments, girls. Doesn’t sound worth the aggravation – 😂