5. Stay on budget.
Shoppers who pay with a gift card pay an average of 20 to 50 percent higher than they would otherwise. If the gift card reduces an item’s cost to a price within your budget, go for it. Otherwise, reign in the desire to spend double the amount of your gift card and try to find something within the balance or as close to it as possible.
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6. Avoid breakage.
Leaving a dollar or two unredeemed on your gift card may seem harmless enough, but it’s something many retailers count on. It's called “breakage,” or leftover money on gift cards that never gets used. Though you shouldn't buy unnecessary items just to use up your gift card, keep it stashed in a visible place in your wallet so it's on top-of-mind whenever you go to pay.
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7. Re-gift it.
Unwanted gift cards make wonderful (and free) gifts for someone who does like the store or restaurant. Since most holiday gift cards feature themed graphics, you may consider asking the customer service department to transfer the funds to a generic store gift card for less obvious re-gifting purposes. You can also purchase a gift from the store using the card for a more thoughtful approach.
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