Dec 14

Tip: Top Three Secret Sources for Gift Discounts

DiscountGift In the midst of the holiday rush, it’s easy to throw savings by the wayside, or to decide it’s just not worth it to go through that stash of coupons you’ve been periodically clipping. If, like me, you can get caught up in a panic not to go gift-less, and end up spending more money than you need to, check it out -- it could take as little as asking one question (or just remembering) to cash in on big gift discounts. The following are the three most-forgotten sources of price reductions on presents:

1. Redeem Reward Points - Most airline frequent-flyer programs allow you to convert miles into magazine subscriptions, dining certificates, or electronics. MilePoint.com converts miles from America West, Continental, Midwest, Hawaiian Airlines, and Northwest into points that can be redeemed for magazine subscriptions (which cost from 300 to 6,000 miles). Credit card rewards programs also offer gift-worthy loot. Blue from American Express, for example, will let you cash in 5,000 points for a US$50 gift card for Pottery Barn or Bloomingdale’s, among other retailers. It may also be worth checking into any store club cards you may have, since many of them offer discounts or give out holiday gifts. I was able to redeem my drug store points for a load of little stocking stuffers...

2. Convert Loose Change - Coinstar offers holiday shoppers a special deal. If you take your pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to a Coinstar machine and trade them for gift cards from Amazon.com, Hollywood Video, Pier 1 Imports, or Starbucks, you won’t have to pay Coinstar’s usual 9 percent commission. Check Coinstar.com for a nearby location.

3. Check Company Perks - Your company may have retail partners that offer special deals to employees, like a percentage discount at various retailers, movie chains, or museums. Check your company’s policy, though, since some discounts are for employees’ use only and can’t be applied toward gifts…

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