You use up part of a gift card and end up with a single-digit balance that you can’t spend on anything else. Seems familiar?

With some widely accepted gift cards (think Visa, American Express, or Amazon) this may not be a problem as it’s easier to deplete balances. On the flip side, brand-specific gift cards, which restrict consumers to a single establishment, can be a slippery slope towards overspending.

An inconvenience to shoppers, this is a beneficial outcome for merchants known as “increased spending,” or when a consumer spends more on a purchase than the value of the gift card, says Amy Dunckelmann, vice president of research operations at Mercator Advisory Group.

Instead of ignoring or throwing this card away, keep it handy for future purchases. If you don’t plan on using the card, consider recharging it (if possible) and giving it to someone else for a birthday, vacation, or party. If you have more than one gift card with money left over, keep a list with the card numbers and corresponding balances, which you can easily review and use the next time you shop. Here are more ways to spend those last few dollars (or cents!) On your gift cards.

To track remaining balances, look on the back of your card. “Retailers provide information on where consumers can view their sales – usually a retailer website, although some offer a free phone number,” say the experts behind the. Retail Gift Card Association (RGCA), a trade association that promotes high standards and best practices in the gift card industry.

Avoid using any third-party apps or services to check your gift card balance as they could potentially lead to theft or scams. Whether you have a gift card in a store or restaurant or a gift card issued by a bank, the safest and most secure way to check a gift card balance is to go directly to the store. ‘gift card issuer,’ says Hunter, adding that they are the only source that can provide an accurate check of your gift card balance.


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