(BPT) - The average family with children in grades K-12 plans to spend $630 on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Retailers are ready for the second largest shopping season with coupons, discounts, flash sales and rebates to lure shoppers.
But there is another simple tool families can take advantage of to save money and get the best value out of back-to-school shopping: gift card exchanges. These online marketplaces allow shoppers to sell their new and partially used gift cards for cash and to buy discounted gift cards. It's a tool that can save you money not only during the back-to-school shopping season, but year round as well.
For years, gift cards have remained the most requested gifts in America. However, that means sometimes consumers end up with gift cards that they can't use, and an unused gift card doesn't do the shopper any good. By using a gift card exchange, consumers can turn their unused gift cards into money that can be put towards their everyday shopping.
Gift card exchanges also offer another innovative way for shoppers to save this season: they sell discounted gift cards. When a consumer sells a gift card to a gift card exchange, that card is then offered up for sale (at a discount) through the exchange to other shoppers looking for that particular brand. Families can simply search gift card exchanges for gift cards to their favorite back-to-school shopping destinations. In some cases, pre-owned gift cards are discounted up to 35 percent, translating into additional back-to-school savings and value.
One fast-growing gift card exchange is Cardpool, backed by the same company that pioneered Gift Card Mall at grocery and retail locations across the U.S.
'Shoppers can also combine discounted gift cards bought on a gift card exchange with retailers' own back-to-school promotions to really ramp up the savings this year,' says Patrick Ramsey, general manager of . 'Savvy shoppers and deal finders will love to 'double dip' on savings like this - it's similar to a double coupon strategy.'
Additionally, parents of college-age children should encourage their students to clean out drawers where old gift cards may be gathering dust. By selling these gift cards to a gift card exchange, college students can take advantage of the cards' value that might have otherwise been unused, and generate extra spending money for the school year.
In addition, the value of exchanging gift cards extends beyond the back-to-school season. Not only do the exchanges offer a way for consumers to get value from their unused gift cards, but they also help shoppers have confidence that they will never have to shop at their favorite retailers without a discount again. Shoppers can simply load up on discounted gift cards and then shop with confidence that they'll get merchandise at a great price.