Could buying discounted gift cards help you save money and reduce your spending each month? Possibly, if you teach yourself not to spend them like free money. Here’s a look at four top sites to buy discounted gift cards. Inventory and discounts can vary significantly from one site to the next; they changed noticeably even as this content was written and checked. We’ll also tell you about some problems with using gift cards for everyday spending.

Giftcards.com

Giftcards.com says it offers discounts of up to 35% on gift cards from more than 100 name-brand merchants. Some gift cards are only available as gift codes, which means you can only use them for online purchases. To get a physical gift card by mail, you’ll pay about $2 in postage for USPS shipping, which takes seven to 10 days.

At the time of writing, Giftcards.com had a number of Walmart gift cards and gift codes available in a variety of denominations, mostly in the $25 to $35 range, all with a 3.5% discount. There were a few Whole Foods gift cards worth about $25 to $35 being sold at a 5% discount. There were a few dozen Starbucks gift cards ranging in value from $25 to $85, and offering discounts of $10. For many top merchants, there were just one or two gift cards available. With any gift card site, however, inventory can change at any time depending on how much supply is available and how much demand there is.

Cardpool

Cardpool also says it offers discounts of up to 35% on gift cards, and its homepage features gift cards from major merchants such as Lowe’s, Target and Best Buy. The site has an ample selection of both physical and electronic gift cards, as well as printable electronic gift certificates that can be used online or in store, from dozens of merchants. Physical gift cards ship free via USPS.

At the time of writing, Cardpool offered a few dozen Walmart gift cards and gift codes in a variety of denominations starting at $21.52, all with a 3.5% discount. There were a few Whole Foods gift cards worth $28 to $40 being sold at a 0.5% discount. There was a Target gift card available, worth $100, with a 2.1% discount. Cardpool had several dozen each of Home Depot, Best Buy, Gap and Starbucks gift cards, but there were no gift cards available for quite a few merchants, including Amazon, Trader Joe’s, and Jamba Juice.

Raise

At Raise.com, we found discounts as high as 19.4% for MovieTickets.com and Restaurant.com and as low as 0% – no, that’s not a typo – for dozens of retailers, including Newegg and Macy’s. Unlike the other gift card sites described in this article, Raise lets sellers choose their discount, which explains why some cards have huge discounts and others have none.

Raise might have the broadest selection, with discounted gift cards from nearly 1,000 name-brand merchants. Like Giftcards.com, some gift cards at Raise.com are only available as eGift cards, which means you can only use them for online purchases. The site also sells physical gift cards and printable vouchers. To get a physical gift card by mail, shipping is free.

At the time of writing, there were hundreds of Target gift cards available, from about $10 to nearly $2,000, with a 0% to 2% discount. For Home Depot, there were hundreds of gift cards available worth about $20 to $500, with discounts of about 0% to 0.8%. As with other sites, only a couple of gift cards were available for certain retailers. Other retailers’ gift cards were in abundant supply.

CardCash

CardCash offers discounts of up to 35% on gift cards from more than 550 merchants. The site sells both physical gift card and printable ecards. To get a physical gift card by mail, standard USPS shipping is free, and your card should arrive in one to five business days.

At the time of writing, there were five Whole Foods gift cards worth $48.43 to $455.26 being sold at a 6% discount. Best Buy was well represented, with more than 100 cards valued at as little as $1.57 and as much as $300, each discounted by 3%. There were also a few dozen Gap gift cards in a wide variety of denominations with discounts ranging from 9% to 10.96%, and a number of Target gift cards available for $5 to $2,000, all with discounts of 5% or more.

For Home Depot, there were more than 100 gift cards available in amounts from $1.00 to $1,500, all with discounts of 1.25% or more. Gift card inventory was scarce for some top merchants, including Autozone, whose gift cards were readily available at other sites.

Other Considerations

Studies have shown that people spend gift card balances more freely than they spend cash, so keep in mind that the discount you feel like you’re getting might be eaten up by your tendency to increase your spending when you pay with a gift card. Some people have the self-control to spend gift cards like cash, but others will spend more than they would have otherwise.

Another problem arises if you want to return something you purchase with a gift card. Instead of getting real money back as you would if you made the purchase with a credit or debit card or with cash, you’ll usually get your refund in the form of a gift card. Some stores, though, will give you cash when refunding a small purchase – say, $10 or less – made via gift card.

You also have to consider the value of your time. A 5% discount at Starbucks sounds great, but when that means getting a $15 gift card for $14.25, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth the trouble just to save 75 cents. At larger denominations, your dollar savings become more significant, but even if you buy a $100 gift card with a 5% discount, you’re only saving $5.

Finally, there may be better ways than buying discounted gift cards to save money at stores where you shop regularly. If you have good credit and always pay off your credit card balances in full and on time, you might find it more convenient to apply for store credit cards that offer discounts. A prime example is Target’s REDcard. It gives you 5% off your purchases right at the register; that’s better than constantly searching for deals on Target gift cards, which tend to sell at only a small discount because of their popularity and usefulness. (See How The Target Credit Card Works.)

The Bottom Line

Gift card inventory is constantly changing. Because inventories and discounts vary by site, there’s no one best choice for buying discounted gift cards. Giftcards.com, Cardpool, Raise, and Cardcash are just a few of the many websites that sell discounted gift cards. There are several others, and all offer the same basic service: a way to buy retail store gift cards for less than face value. Giftcards.com was the only one that charged for shipping at the time of writing.

There are also sites such as Gift Card Granny and CardHub that help you find the best deals by showing you which discounted gift card websites will save you the most money on the specific cards you’re looking for. Some of these sites also buy gift cards if you have some you're not using.

Read Are Discounted Gift Card Websites Safe? and How To Get Gift Cards At A Discount to learn more.

Want to learn how to invest?

Get a free 10 week email series that will teach you how to start investing.

Delivered twice a week, straight to your inbox.