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Here’s How I’ve Saved Over $2,000 By Purchasing Discounted Gift Cards

Jamie, Collin’s Hip Sidekick here!
I love to save money with 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 (see above), I’m never turning back! Keep reading to save 10% off of your first order.

How does work? 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

Savings. In addition to saving over $2,000 since 2014 with, 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) 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, 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 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 discounted voucher cards in a slightly smaller amount than needed. (Note: digital 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 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.
Online: FullBeauty
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 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 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 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 app wallet or make a 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 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 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 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 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.

Do you purchase discounted gift cards?