Gift Card Spree

You know how twice a year you get a crap-ton of gift cards to places you don't ever go? What do you usually do with them? Add them to the already bursting section of your wallet that you never venture into, of course!

Last week I celebrated my 26th birthday. A few friends/family gave me some very nice gift cards. I went to put them in my wallet in the "gift card section" but they wouldn't fit! So, I did something I've ALWAYS wanted to do (my dreams are simple, people). I had a gift card spree.

First I got all of my gift cards, then I got all of my fiance's gift cards (yes, with his permission) then I called every single one to get the balances. I wrote the balances on the cards with a sharpee.

The next day, we went shopping.

Here's something important to keep in mind. In California, it's the law that a merchant must give a customer the balance of a gift card in cash if that balance is less than $10. So, our goal was to spend enough of each card that it would have less that $10 and we could get the cash.

First we had $15 to Subway. We each got a 6" sub and got $7.21 in return.

Next we went to Jamba Juice with $15. We each got a 16oz smoothie and got $6.75 in return.

Then we went to Fresh and Easy with a $25 gift card and used it to purchase another $25 gift card, but to Best Buy.

After that we headed up to Fry's to check the balance of a card that was in Kc's wallet and didn't have a number to call. It was empty.

Then we went to the wine exchange where we had 3 cards that we had filled with money for wine tasting at different times and got all the money off. That was $24.75.

Down the street was a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf that we had $5 to. Got ourselves $5.

Then we went to Best Buy with our new $25 gift card and an old one with $7 on it. Kc bought two new video games and paid an additional $10.

After that we went to Bath and Body Works where I had $25. I can't use their products because I have sensitive skin and strong flowery smells give me migraines. But, my future mother-in-law's birthday is this weekend and she likes their products (hi, Kathy!). They were having a sale so I got 3 things but had to pitch in $2.

I got a really nice Margarita set for my birthday from Target, but it was one of 2! So, I returned it and got a... gift card. Kc and I got household necessities and $2.18 back.

This was my favorite part. I had two $15 Coldstone cards. So, Kc and I each got something and $10 back. Total of $19.42.

Then we went to Macy's where I had a $37 exchange card. I got some unmentionables and asked for the remaining $6 in cash. Because it was an exchange card, not a gift card, they couldn't do it. So Kc found a t-shirt for $10 on sale. It was on sale again so he ended up spending $1.50 for the shirt.

Next was the movie theater. We saw Paranorman with our $30 to AMC and got $5 back.

After that we walked over to TGI Friday's at the Block in Orange. Yikes. We had $25 and figured we'd go to the bar and have a drink. When we were finished we paid with the card and asked for the remaining balance in cash. The bartender did not understand. So, another bartender came over and explained that they can't do that. I told him that it was the law (I was waiting all day for someone to not know that they had to give us the cash (I even had the wording of the law pulled up on my phone just in case)). We asked to see the manager. The 2nd bartender said they were busy and it would by 15 - 20 minutes. We said that was fine. Then, a moment later we saw what looked like a manager come talk to them and take our gift card. He did not come talk to us. Bartender #2 came back over and said that for future reference this is something that is dealt with on the corporate side, not directly with bartenders and said, "I'm giving you this out of my own pocket to avoid conflict." Then he gave us the $9. We left a $4 tip to bartender #1 and went on our way with (apparently) bartender #2's $5. Not ever going there again - gift card or not (also, Kc recorded the whole thing and is sending it to their corporate offices).

We finished the night with dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. We got two starters and two entrees with our $50. We left a nice tip and still exited with $4.

At the end of the day we only have 2 cards we did not get to use: $50 to Olive Garden and $25 to Hillstone Restaurant Group (who, by the way, will give you all the cash off a gift card the first time you use it. Even if you only spend $3). There are only so many meals in a day, People!

Including what we spent we made almost $60 off our cards and had an awesome day for free!


  1. Love this! You must have been exhausted afterwards. That's a busy busy day.

  2. wow! i will file away this knowledge that you do not use/prefer gift cards. I always use mine within a month because otherwise i'm afraid i'll lose them.