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Still shopping today? 9 gift card tips
First Published Dec 24 2013 09:59 am • Last Updated Dec 24 2013 09:59 am

The most popular holiday gift this year is practical, versatile and cheaply shipped. It’s exactly what your recipient wants and can be used now, later, or now and later.

What is it, you ask? A gift card, of course, says Andrea Woroch, consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc.

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These handy cards are topping holiday wish lists for the seventh year in a row, with nearly 60 percent of consumers surveyed by the National Retail Federation requesting one.

Spending on gift cards is also at an all-time high, with the average shopper planning to shell out over $160 this season. There’s nothing easier than popping over to a store and buying a gift card, but it’s pretty hard to get a good deal on one. Or is it? Here are 9 ways to save on the hottest gift of the season:

Buy in bulk » Sam’s Club is offering gift cards at a discount through its Extreme Value Gift Card program. Pick up cards to national and regional restaurants, movie theaters and select spas for up to 20 percent savings. You’ll be getting several cards at once so be sure there’s enough people on your gift list for the purchase.

Check in with Granny » When it comes to buying discount gift cards online, look no further than Gift Card Granny. You can easily find the best price on gift cards to thousands of stores, restaurants and service providers. You can also sell unwanted gift cards on GiftCardGranny.com in exchange for cash or even Amazon gift cards from select resellers.

Look in your inbox » Daily deals aren’t just good for half-price facials and bargain boot camps. Groupon, LivingSocial and AmazonLocal occasionally offer gift cards for less than face value. "I just scored 50 percent off a $10 gift card to Starbucks and am gifting it to one of my java-loving friends, so keep your eyes peeled and your clicker finger ready to purchase," Woroch said.

Recoup it » Some buyers may regret purchasing gift cards through daily deal sites, making them even more of a steal for you. Head over to CoupRecoup.com and search for "gift card" in the Deal Filters section for a list of available offers.

Get it for free » Free-ish, anyway. Major retailers including Walmart, Target and Best Buy are offering free gift cards with select purchases, so this is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Some of these cards are more like coupons than true gift cards, so be sure you read the fine print before gifting.

Redeem points » After a year of swiping plastic, your credit card likely has a good amount of points built up. Peruse the online store of your credit card for gift cards, favoring popular brands like Amazon, Target and Walmart if you’re not sure what the recipient will like.

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Earn rewards » Before heading out for holiday shopping, download the free Shopkick app to your smartphone. You can earn rewards just for shopping at certain retailers, plus extra points when you purchase select items recommended by the app. Turn these rewards into gift cards for hard-to-shop-for people on your list.

Trade up » Trade-in programs for unwanted gadgets offer free store gift cards in return for the exchange. If you’re not upgrading your device, this is a great way to get gift cards to stores like Amazon, Target, Walmart and Best Buy.

Participate in promotions » Some retailers are offering gift cards with special promotions and events. For example, Toys ‘R Us will give $10 gift cards to shoppers who spend $100 or more through their Wish Lists.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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