Make a date now to use your holiday gift cards

Christmas in January? It might be the best post-holiday pay-off if you plan now to use your holiday gift cards. You know how this Christmas story goes:

November: You shop the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, get some great gifts for your family at up to 50% off, wrap them up and put them under the tree.

December 25th: Some of those gifts are perfect. Others either don’t fit, aren’t the right brand or model, or are otherwise met with a ho hum.

December 26th:  You and your family stand in long, long lines to exchange or return the not-quite-right gifts. Then you see the signs for the After Christmas Sales: “75% off the already reduced price!” and realize you paid more for both the gifts that were kept and the ones returned.

Sound familiar? The good news is that the after-Christmas shopping season can be the best time to use holiday gift cards.

Retailers know that the day after Christmas is the one of the biggest shopping days of the year, as shoppers show up to return unwanted gifts and cash in on some of the best sales of the season. It’s not just the brick and mortar stores: online retailers offer deep discounts after Christmas, too. After Christmas sales generally extend to a few days after Christmas, and January heralds in new savings as well.

Smart shoppers know that as tempting as the holiday season sales are, there are always better deals to be had in the New Year. Popular categories that offer big savings include clothing, electronic accessories, fitness gear, and—of course—holiday merchandise. So why not skip the seasonal sales, the return lines, and the needlessly spent money and give gift cards or cash instead?

This strategy can work great for high school and college-aged kids on your list who have very selective ideas about clothing and other goods. It also can work well for spouses or other adult relatives. It’s not such a great idea for little kids, who expect Santa to bring their gifts on Christmas Day. But for those who would rather pick out their own gifts, gift cards will save money and hassle.

It’s becoming more and more acceptable to give gift cards for Christmas. In fact, gift cards are the most requested presents during the holiday season, and gift card sales have soared over the years, with 2015 sales estimated at an all-time high of $25.9 billion. However, if you give cards instead of cash, make sure you plan a shopping trip as well:  Statistics showed that $750 million in gift cards went unredeemed in 2014. And, 40% of gift card recipients do not use the total value of the card.

It pays to wait until after Christmas to get the most our of your gift giving. Gift cards and cash may be just the thing for lots of people on your list to get the best present you could possibly afford. To get the best post-holiday pay off, and to make sure that your gift cards are used, make a date now with your friends and family to cash in on your holiday gift cards.

Do you shop after-Christmas sales? What about gift cards? Do you like buying and receiving them? Let us know!


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Hanscom Federal Credit Union
Hanscom Federal Credit Union

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