Make us your home page

Daily Q&A: How can I make best use of gift cards?

How can I make the best use of the gift cards I received during the holidays without getting hit with hefty fees? says industry estimates show consumers will lose $5 billion in gift card money this year to fees and expiration dates. You know, those cards you've misplaced, shoved in a drawer or otherwise neglected.

"That's a huge amount of money that consumers will be wasting," Ben Woolsey, director of marketing and consumer research for, said in a statement. "But if they're savvy and read between the lines, gift cards can be just as good as having cash in your pocket."

Here are some suggestions from on how to make the most of your gift cards:

• Corral your cards: Make sure you can always find cards when you need them by putting them in the same place.

• Log them online: Register card numbers and PINs online at a site like or, where you can track your balances and check expiration dates. You'll also have backup in case it's lost or stolen.

• Read the fine print: Beginning in August 2010, the new Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act prohibits gift card inactivity fees for the first year and extends expiration dates to five years from activation.

• Trade it: If you get a card you know you won't use, try a card-swapping and selling site such as, or and get what you really want.

• Give again: The next time you have two dollars left on that gift card, remember groups like Atlanta-based nonprofit, which stockpiles cards then combines them into higher-value gift cards that are donated to the needy.

For more information visit

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to or Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: How can I make best use of gift cards? 01/06/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 11:02am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24


    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  2. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  3. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights


    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.


    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Ford's Garage opens new Westchase spot


    Ford's Garage opened its sixth Florida location in Westchase this week.

    hillsevbiz081817: Ford's Garage opened its sixth Florida location in Westchase this week. Photo courtesy of Ford's Garage
  5. Carls Patio celebrates great outdoor furnishings in Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — While many northerners are shoveling snow, Floridians are lounging poolside in the middle of winter.

    hillsevbiz081817: After selling outdoor and patio furniture in locations in South Florida since 1993, Carls Patio has opened its first store to open in the Tampa Bay area and there are plans for more. Photo courtesy of Carls Patio.