Holiday Gift Cards: The Hardest Lesson I’ve Learned

What I learned this holiday shopping season will forever change the way I buy gift cards, and I wanted to share this hard-learned lesson with you.

Avoid buying gift cards at retail stores

Scammers latch on to gift cards as a convenient form of payment in their scams. In fact, gift card scams increase when cards are purchased at a retail store where criminal fraudsters tamper with some cards, rendering them worthless after adding hard-earned cash value. Why do fraudsters love gift card payments so much?

  • Virtually impossible to locate
  • Easily available
  • It can easily be converted into cash or bitcoin
  • Ability to move large amounts of money in small packages.

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Here are some of my lessons learned about gift cards this year.

Here are some of my lessons learned about gift cards this year.
(iStock, file)

Shop only from cash back gift card sources

If you buy gift cards through cash back sources, you earn money and incentives just for buying gift cards. Cash back gift cards earn you a gift while being generous to others.

Here’s my list of top reputable cash back gift card sources:

1) Ibotta

Ibotta is a wonderful app that allows you to earn cash back at some of your favorite stores like Target, Starbucks, Lowe’s and over 1,500 other retailers. Includes rewards for grocery shopping, food delivery, movie and concert tickets, and more.

Ibotta gift card options.

Ibotta gift card options.
(CyberGuy.com)

Once you purchase the gift card for your loved one, you’ll receive instant cash back into your Ibotta account. Here’s how to buy gift cards for others in the Ibotta app:

In the “Shop by Category” section, go to Gift cards on the home screen of the Ibotta app and search or browse retailers by a variety of categories, including “nearby,” “clothing,” “coffee and tea,” “electronics,” “health and beauty,” and more.

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Choose the store you want and select the option to buy a gift card. You will notice the cash back percentage you will receive once you purchase the gift card. As you can see in the example below, if you buy an Old Navy gift card, you’ll get 7% back. Some cards you can get up to 20% back.

How to buy a gift card through Ibotta.

How to buy a gift card through Ibotta.
(CyberGuy.com)

  • Enter the amount you want to put on the gift card
Here's where to make your Ibotta payment.

Here’s where to make your Ibotta payment.
(CyberGuy.com)

  • switch This is a gift to send the card to your loved one after purchase via email or text; They do not need the Ibotta app to use the gift card.
Ibotta lets you earn cash.

Ibotta lets you earn cash.
(CyberGuy.com)

  • Find instant cash back in your Ibotta account after your purchase is complete.

Click this linkand use the mpiaurm referral code to earn $10 when you submit your first receipt .

Copy the code to enter in the referral code box on the Ibotta “Create Account” page: piaurm

To learn more about how to use the Ibotta app to get some great gifts, visit CyberGuy.com and search for “Ibotta” by clicking on the magnifying glass icon at the top of my website.ge

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2) Rakuten

This popular retailer offers easy ways to earn cash. They can get cash back on selected gift cards purchased in stores through Rakuten’s website or by downloading its app. Note: You may not receive cash back on any purchases made with your own gift cards or certificates, meaning you must always pay with a regular credit or debit card to receive your cash back.

Shopping with Rakuten Gift Cards.

Shopping with Rakuten Gift Cards.
(CyberGuy.com)

They offer over 3,500 stores to choose from, including Bath & Body Works, Ulta, and Uber, and each store lists the percentage of cash back you’ll get once you shop. Stores like Adidas and Petco offer up to 6% cash back when you buy gift cards through Rakuten.

Here’s how to gift your loved one a Rakuten Gift Card and earn cash back:

  • Go to the Rakuten> Click on “Categories” in the menu > Click Rakuten Gift Card Store
The Rakuten Gift Card Store.

The Rakuten Gift Card Store.
(CyberGuy.com)

Select your gift card store brands here.

Select your gift card store brands here.
(CyberGuy.com)

  • Select the store you want to shop at and choose the amount you want to put on the gift card. Consider the cash back percentage you’ll receive for purchasing the gift card.
Earn cash back by buying gift cards on Rakuten.

Earn cash back by buying gift cards on Rakuten.
(CyberGuy.com)

Be sure to click "Send as a gift."

Make sure to click “Send as a gift”.
(CyberGuy.com)

  • Check the Send as a giftoption
  • See your cashback earnings appear in your Rakuten account.

Sign up to Rakuten here and earn $30 when you spend $30. Please see the terms on the Rakuten page.

3) TopCashback

TopCashback Gift Cards offer up to 20.8% cash back when you purchase gift cards through their service. Some of the stores they work with include Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Here’s how to send a gift card to someone else using TopCashback.

TopCashback also gives you cash back when you buy gift cards.

TopCashback also gives you cash back when you buy gift cards.
(CyberGuy.com)

Here are the store options at TopCashback.

Here are the store options at TopCashback.
(CyberGuy.com)

  • Select the store you want to shop at, choose the gift card amount and press Continue. Consider the percentage of cash back you’ll receive on each gift card.
This is where you can select the gift card amount.

This is where you can select the gift card amount.
(CyberGuy.com)

  • On the next page, select “Email someone else” and fill in the information
Choose to send gift cards to yourself or someone else by email.

Choose to send gift cards to yourself or someone else by email.
(CyberGuy.com)

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  • Enter your payment information and TopCashback will send the gift card to your recipient. You will receive your cash within 30 days.

Sign up for TopCashback here.

4) PayPal Honey

Many people use PayPal as their primary online payment service. However, most don’t realize all the rewards that can come with using PayPal Honey as well. PayPal Honey doesn’t offer cash back when consumers use gift cards, but what it does allow you to do is redeem the points you earn from in-app purchases for cash, gift cards, or PayPal shopping credits.

Once you download the app and create an account with PayPal Honey, which is free, you can activate the cash back option so you can earn points on your eligible purchases. The app will then let you know as you shop at your favorite stores if you’re eligible for the points you’ve earned, as well as exclusive store offers like Double Cash Back.

More than 4,500 stores have a points system with PayPal Honey, including Apple, Walmart and Home Depot.

PayPal Honey for gift card points.

PayPal Honey for gift card points.
(CyberGuy.com)

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Once you’ve earned enough points, you can redeem those points for cash, gift cards, or PayPal shopping credits. If you’d like to use points to purchase gift cards, you can do so from the PayPal Honey redemption page. All you have to do is:

  • Select the store of your choice
Honey gift card options.

Honey gift card options.
(CyberGuy.com)

  • Choose the number of points you want to redeem and selectredeem
Here's how to redeem points with PayPal Honey.

Here’s how to redeem points with PayPal Honey.
(CyberGuy.com)

  • PayPal Honey will email you within 24 hours with your e-gift card.
  • Learn more about joining PayPal Honey by clickinghere.

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