We all have at least one person who is, shall we say, impossible to shop for.
Gift cards can be a great option for that person.
They're also the single most popular item on people's wish lists, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Of those surveyed, 60 percent said they want gift cards (followed by apparel at 49 percent and books, CDs, DVDs and video games at 46 percent).
But before you start grabbing from just any gift card kiosk, you should know that you can get them at discounted prices.
You can also sell unused gift cards at an online marketplace.
I don't know about you, but my ears perked up when I heard this.
Costco currently offers two $50 cards to California Pizza Kitchen for $79.99. Or you can get four $25 gift cards to Ghirardelli Chocolate for $79.99. Who doesn't love pizza or chocolate?
(Of course, if you aren't already a Costco member, you'll want to factor in the cost of a new membership before deciding if this is your best choice.)
Another option is Plastic Jungle or GiftCards.com, which are online marketplaces that buy and sell unused gift cards.
When you buy a gift card from Plastic Jungle, for example, you get it for about 10 percent less than face value of the card.
You don't have to worry about not getting what you are buying.
"We actually buy the card ourselves and resell it, so it means we have to guarantee the value of that transaction," said Bruce Bower, CEO of Plastic Jungle.
"We stand by the transaction."
Overall last year, $110 billion was spent on gift cards to restaurants and retail stores, Bower said. Of that $110 billion, 8 percent went unused. Eight percent doesn't sound like a big number, but when it's 8 percent out of $110 billion, that's a big chunk of change.
Some gift cards expire, so be sure to read the fine print.
Plastic Jungle gives you the opportunity to sell gift cards you'd never use for up to 92 percent of the card's balance.
Here's how it works.
Say your dear Aunt Edna gets you a gift card for The Children's Place. You have no kids, and you're way past fitting into a kid's size dress.
Go to www.plasticjungle.com, click on "Sell a Gift Card."
You'll be asked to enter the details about your gift card, such as the retailer, card number and pin number.
Plastic Jungle will tell you how much they'll pay for the card and give you the choice of three payment options: check, Amazon.com gift card via email (this option gets you 3 percent more) or a deposit into your PayPal account.
Thank you, Aunt Edna.
Star reporter Angela Pittenger, our "Centsible Mom," shares tips, ideas and news about how Tucson consumers can find value and stretch their budgets. Send suggestions, ideas or questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4137.