You may want to buy deeply discounted gift cards from Craigslist, but have concerns about getting scammed. As your research assistant, I took it upon myself to figure out how you could buy a discounted gift card or store credit in a scam-proof way. After all, we are in a collaborative economy now and we need to figure out how to conduct business with safeguards in place. I started off by buying a $244 worth of Home Depot store credits for $200 (a 18% discount), but as the table shows, I’ve become more savvy over time. I will continue to update the table, but as of March 2014 my average discount is 26%. This whole maneuver is just like buying a car below Bluebook and selling it at full value. Or buying a piece of real estate below market value. We Next Generation Landlords are familiar with the concept, so why aren’t we doing more with it?
Here are the steps you can take along with three safeguards to buy discounted Home Depot gift cards and store credits:
1. Check Craigslist for people trying to sell discounted gift cards. You want to work with regular people (non professionals) and they often miscategorize their ad. The best thing to do is use Craigslist’s search features and check for new ads each day. I find success searching for “Home Depot card” and “Home Depot credit”. The volume of people selling unwanted gift cards increases during the holidays, but you may find opportunities to buy store credits all year-long. It all depends on your area and local trends.
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2. Contact the seller and arrange a meeting at the Customer Service Department of your local Home Depot. Safeguard #1 – Home Depot stores have lots of video surveillance and a lot of people milling about. If this makes your seller nervous, then you don’t want to do business with them. Don’t hesitate to call off the deal.
3. Show up before your meeting time and pick out items that have a total value slightly larger than the card’s value. The goal is to prepare yourself to use the seller’s card before handing over your money. This way you won’t be swindled.
HOT TIP: It’s best to pick items that you need and then supplement with well sealed items that you will return. I suggest you pick tools as items that you plan to return. They are relatively small, expensive, and are of a wide variety of prices. Look for items like the Ryobi that’s viewable and completely sealed in tamper proof plastic.
4. As a surprise, walk the seller from Customer Service to the Checkout line. Safeguard #2 – This step puts you in control and will cause an unscrupulous seller to change their game plan. If your seller complies with your instruction, then you can rest assured the deal will go through just fine.
5. Use seller’s card to buy your items THEN pay seller. Once you have the receipt in hand you’re home free. The receipt shows that you used a gift card (or store credit) to make your purchase and gives you the right, under Home Depot’s “Store Return Policy Basics”, to return the items for store credit (not cash).
Make sure the items you plan to return aren’t fuel-burning or fall into Home Depot’s list of Return Exceptions. This is Safeguard #3 because it eliminates the seller’s ability to siphon money off the card they just sold.
6. Return the supplemental items to get new card(s) issued to you. It will be easy to return well-sealed tools or other items with a receipt, however you don’t want to draw attention to yourself by walking straight from the checkout to the returns department. Make the return at a different store or on a different day. This makes the transaction appear more natural. If you want to break your cards into $100 increments, you may want to only return items valued at $100 at a time. It’s wise not to have too much money on one card. Just like cash, you want to be careful. Congratulations, you’re a big saver. You’ve just purchased an option that would make Warren Buffet jealous.
Willing to Accept a Smaller Discount for Less Effort
If you’re in a hurry (or just feeling lazy), I recommend you buy cards discounted cards from ABC Gift Cards because they:
- Offer a 45-day guarantee
- Mail your cards and/or ecode to you all at once. They actually own the cards; they’re not matchmakers
- You’ll get the card(s) within 10 days of placing your order
- You can get an extra 3% discount with an order of $1,000 or more
You’ll typically see ABC selling Home Depot cards with 7% to 11% discounts. So give them a try, save yourself some money.
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