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You’ve just learned that a retailer is having financial trouble and you have their gift cards. Here’s what to do with those gift cards from a store that may go bankrupt.

gift cards from a store that may go bankrupt

If you’re anything like me, you may let gift cards sit around for a while. Even if you get a gift card to a retailer you like, you wait to use it until you really want something. And, generally, that’s not a bad thing. Retailers are generally pretty good about honoring gift cards even years after they were first issued. (Though you definitely want to check the fine print on the card before you hold onto it that long!)

But what if you find out the company whose gift card you have is about to file for bankruptcy or has filed already? This happened to loads of consumers in 2015 when RadioShack filed for bankruptcy.

If you hear that a store is filing bankruptcy and you have their gift cards lying around, one thing is for sure. You should use them quickly.

That’s because it’s hard to tell exactly what will happen after the company files bankruptcy. In some cases, the courts will resolve the bankruptcy with the business still intact and honoring outstanding gift cards. In other cases, the company will shut down as part of the bankruptcy.

In the case of RadioShack, consumers wound up with just a few weeks to use their gift cards before the company would no longer honor them.

Typically, the courts get to decide how long outstanding gift cards will be honored when a retailer files for bankruptcy. Gift cards are considered unsecured outstanding debt. So they may or may not be usable once a retailer files bankruptcy. Often times, though, the courts will give consumers a limited time frame in which to spend the gift cards.

So whenever you hear a popular retailer has filed for bankruptcy, check your wallet, your sock drawer, and under your bed. See if you have any gift cards with a balance. And then take these steps:

1. Check out how long gift cards will be honored

First thing’s first. Figure out how long you have to spend that gift card. Again, the courts will generally decide how long the company is able to honor gift cards. Generally, you’ll want to spend the money sooner than later just to be safe. But you might be able to wait a week or two to see if you can get a better deal on products the company is marking down as part of its liquidation process.

Just be sure you spend that money well ahead of the actual deadline. That way you’re sure the money will be available. And you won’t get stuck spending it on the dregs of what’s left over after the liquidation sales begin in earnest.

2. Buy things you need anyway

I tend to hold on to gift cards to purchase things that I want but wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself. Or I might use a gift card to upgrade a purchase I need anyway but wouldn’t pay extra for a premium product. If I need new sheets, I might use a gift card to upgrade them from the basic level to the premium quality, for instance.

This strategy means I end up holding on to gift cards for a while. And that’s not a good thing when dealing with a company that’s filed for bankruptcy.

In this case, try to look for things you need, anyway, and just spend that money on those things. Even if the item doesn’t count as a “need” right now, consider purchasing it if you know you’ll need it within the next six months. Then you can spend the gift card without actually wasting the money on something you’ll never use.

3. Stock up on things you’ll eventually use

In a similar vein, you can use a gift card to stock up on things you’ll use eventually. For instance, old RadioShack customers may have used their gift cards to stock up on electronic essentials like phone chargers and protective cases. Maybe all your chargers are working now, but you know you buy replacements every few months, anyway.

4. Purchase gifts ahead of time

Expiring gift cards are a great way to purchase gifts well ahead of time. If you can’t find anything you want or need from the store in question, consider upcoming holidays and birthdays. Maybe you can purchase gifts for your kids or loved ones for the holidays.

Or maybe you already have some money set aside for a specific gift purchase, but not enough to buy it in full. Add the gift card to your total, and go ahead and purchase that gift while the card is still usable.

5. Purchase items to donate or resell

If you truly can’t find something you want or need, will eventually need, or want to give as a gift, you can at least buy items to donate or resell.

If your plan is to donate, ask your favorite non-profit what they might use from the store in question. Use your gift card to buy it, and then hand it over to the non-profit. You can at least take a tax write off!

If the plan is to resell, look into the market for items from that store. Check eBay and Craigslist to see what people want from a store like the one in question. Then you can buy items that you neither want nor need, but you can at least get some cash back when you sell them to someone else. This is an even better deal if you can buy the item in question at a lower liquidation price and then even resell for a profit.

When you hear a store is filing for bankruptcy and you have gift cards from there, don’t panic. But do follow these steps to use those gift cards well before you run out of time.

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The one thing better than an Amazon gift card is a free Amazon gift card. Here are eight ways to score free Amazon gift cards.

free amazon gift cards

If you’re anything like me, you’re used to seeing “Amazon” on your bank statement. Those boxes with blue tape are a mainstay on my front porch, delivering everything from vitamins and electronics to my son’s last pair of soccer cleats.

Now, you can even order groceries through Amazon Pantry. And you can get on-demand items within hours with Amazon Now. The ability to order milk and eggs to my front door has made Amazon even more valuable in my home, which is why I’m always looking for ways to snag free gift cards to the site.

You can find free Amazon gift cards in a number of places online. Here are a few we’ve come across and what you have to do to earn those gift cards:

1. Go to the Sourceamazon.JPG

The best place to get free Amazon gift cards is, interestingly enough, straight from Amazon itself.

The site regularly sends targeted offers to current- and potential-Prime subscribers. Earlier this month, for example, they offered a free $10 gift card if you sent someone a $50 gift card via text. (Just send it to your spouse if you’re not feeling generous!)

They also offer promotions like “spend $25, get $10” and the like. These are most often found in their grocery and personal care/health sections of the site. I’ve also taken advantage of reload offers, where I can load my Amazon account with a gift card and receive a bonus (usually $5) in the process. Check their gift card section online to see if any current offers are listed. Be sure to check back regularly.

2. MyPoints

If you shop online, print coupons, read emails, take surveys, or play games, you can earn free Amazon gift cards through MyPoints.

The site is incredibly easy to use. You simply have to sign up and the choose how you want to earn points. This can be through taking advantage of special shopping offers, watching featured videos on the home page, or using apps like Coupons.com to save on your grocery bill.

 

Right now, they’re even offering 100 points a day for using Coupons.com. That’s an easy way to earn 3,000+ points in a single month, just on one money-saving task alone!

When you complete any of these tasks, you’ll earn a set number of points. Once your account reaches a certain point, you can redeem these points for gift card rewards. Options range from restaurant and apparel shops to… you guessed it, Amazon.

Simply earn 480 points to redeem your first gift card. The more you save up, the further your points will go towards bigger rewards.

3. Credit Card Rewards

If you use a credit card that offers cash back (why wouldn’t you, after all? It’s free money!), you might be able to snag Amazon gift card offers with your earned rewards. Sometimes, you can even get bonus redemptions with certain partner companies–on occasion, Amazon is one of them.

Check out your credit card company’s rewards portal to see where you can redeem your points. If they offer a bonus ($25 gift card for $20 in rewards, for instance), this is an excellent way to make your free money go even further.

4. Online Surveys

Depending on how quickly you can fly through online surveys, it’s possible to make a decent return on your time. Sometimes, the return comes in the form of Amazon gift cards.

Companies like MintVine, Crowdology, and Univox will pay you for your time and effort, offering you daily survey opportunities and various reimbursement options. You can pick and choose the surveys that most apply to you and your family, and also sort them according to length and earnings.

 

Check out this page if you want to see a list of survey companies that offer Amazon cards as a payment option.

5. Get an Amazon Credit Card

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This is in the same area as number three above, but getting an Amazon credit card is another good way to earn Amazon-specific rewards.

The Amazon Prime Rewards Signature Visa® is a great cash back card, especially if you spend a fair amount on Amazon.com. It offers a $70 Amazon gift card bonus right off the bat, as well as 5% back for every dollar you spend on the site. There is no annual fee, and you’ll also earn 2% cash back at drug stores, restaurants, and gas stations, and 1% back everywhere else.

There’s no minimum redemption amount, so you can start using earned rewards whenever you’d like. And, of course, you can use rewards on Amazon.com, just like you’d use a gift card.

6. Ibotta and Shopkick

If you aren’t using apps like Ibotta and Shopkick to earn free money when you shop, you really should start. Last year alone, I earned almost $200 from Ibotta on the things I was already buying. And I got a $20 gift card from Shopkick just from checking into stores I was already visiting. It’s easy. It’s free. And you can earn yourself some money for Amazon (or anywhere else).

Ibotta sends you cash rebates for things you buy at certain stores. You can also go through the site to buy on Amazon.com and earn credit that way. Once you’ve accumulated enough earnings, you can cash them out through Paypal or opt for free gift cards (like those for Amazon.com).

Shopkick rewards you for visiting, checking in, scanning items, and buying from certain stores. Points earned vary by store and by “task,” but it’s easy to earn points without spending a penny. When you’ve earned enough, cash them out for partner gift cards at stores like Target or, of course, Amazon.

7. Check Your Health Insurance

When is the last time you actually visited your health insurance company’s online portal? Of course, you can view your recent claims, deductible information, and order new cards. But often times, you can also find valuable offers.

For example, I logged in last month to my portal through Innovation Health. In their customer info section, I saw an offer for a free $50 Amazon gift card if I would just watch a 10-minute video. The video was on making healthy choices (food, exercise, etc.), which benefits my insurer. But in the end, I scored an e-gift card to Amazon.com.

Not all providers will offer promotions like this, but it’s definitely worth checking!

8. Trade It In

Looking to de-clutter the house and make some money in the process? The Amazon Trade-In Program might be the perfect answer.

You can go to the Trade-In Store to search for items that may be eligible for trading, whether you purchased them from Amazon or somewhere else. If you find a suitable offer, accept it, follow the directions for shipping, and wait. You’re on your way to earning an Amazon gift card for those items you may not even use anymore.

 

Amazon has quickly become a household name, known for delivering the things we need most at competitive prices (and lightning-fast!). This means that finding ways to earn free Amazon gift cards is not only fun, but budget-friendly.

Have you snagged a free gift card, to Amazon or elsewhere, using another method? Share it below!

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Starting last night, Amazon’s 3rd annual flash sale, called Prime Day, went live. The big event runs for 30 hours, ending at 3am EST on Wednesday, July 12. So, shoppers still have plenty of time to take advantage of hundreds of huge deals on the site.

So, what is Amazon Prime Day, and how can you make the most of this big shopping event?

Prime Day is for Prime Members

As the name suggests, Amazon’s epic Prime Day is reserved for Prime members. But don’t fret if you haven’t signed up yet!

Prime membership runs $100 a year, or $12 a month. Amazon also offers a free 30-day trial, if you’d like to try the service before committing to the $100 annual fee.

If you aren’t yet a Prime member (why not?!), there’s still time to sign up and take advantage of Prime Day. Simply visit this page and either sign up for a membership (annual or month-to-month) or just the free trial. Then, get to shopping.

The Types of Deals

There are two basic types of deals on Prime Day: spotlight deals and lightning deals.

Spotlight deals are all-day discounts offered on hundreds of items throughout the site. These include deals like 33% off of a Roomba robotic vacuum or 51% off Sony Wireless Headphones. You’ll find discounts on pretty much every Amazon-branded product available, like the popular Echo Dot with Alexa technology. You can also snag magazine subscriptions for as low as $0.99 for 5 issues (Country Living and Redbook are two on the list).

Lightning deals are limited-stock items that are typically offered at even greater savings. The catch is, though, that these deals go quick (hence the “lightning”).

The items being offered as lightning deals are available at different times, and are offered until they sell out. These items go live as often as every 5 minutes, so you’ll need to be quick if you want to snag the next big deal.

When Will I Get My Stuff?

The glorious part of Prime membership — aside from being able to participate in Prime Day, of course — is that shipping for Prime items is two days or less.

Many Prime items now come with Next Day shipping, and some are even lucky enough to have Same Day delivery! You’ll also have access to Prime Now, the service that can deliver select items, groceries, and household goods in as little as two hours.

I’ve used Prime Now many times. It has saved me a trip to the grocery store in rush hour traffic. I’ve also used it to send ice cream treats to the house when a babysitter was there with my kids. I’ll admit, the service has spoiled me rotten.

There’s Not Much Time Left!

If you want to take advantage of the Prime Day deals you’ll need to act fast. The deals continue until 3 a.m. EST tonight, or until the lightning deals sell out.

Remember, Prime Day is only available to Prime Members, so you’ll need to at least sign up for a free 30-day trial if you want to snag a big discount. Now, what are you waiting for? Hop on over to Amazon and start shopping!

What’s the best deal you snagged for Prime Day?

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Whether or not you should pay more for quality is a decision that comes up often when shopping. The answer varies depending on the product.For some purchases, paying more is a giant waste of money which would be better spent elsewhere. For other items, it’s well worth the additional investment up front to ensure a quality product that lasts. So, how do you decide?

buyright

This question could be asked of virtually any purchase, so we can’t cover them all. However, here are seven examples of popular purchases and our verdict on whether it makes sense to pay more for quality:

Cars: Pay More for Quality

When it comes to buying a car, especially a used car, going with the cheapest option could be a big mistake. There are plenty of stories of people who bought used cars thinking they were getting a deal, only to discover the car needed costly repairs. Although state “lemon laws” exist to protect consumers in situations like those, you may not discover the car’s problems right away. Ultimately, you could be left with a vehicle that costs you more than expected.

It’s worth it to pay more for a quality car that has a clean history and is up-to-date in its maintenance. Buying cheap will likely cost you more in the long run. A completely new car might be out-of-budget for many people (and isn’t the best idea from a personal finance standpoint, anyway!). Buying a late model used car can be just as good as new, though, and you’ll likely be able to extend the warranty on it.

Homes: Pay More for Quality

Things like location and square footage are important factors to consider when purchasing a home. These shouldn’t be overlooked solely for the sake of price.

Unlike an ugly kitchen that can be remodeled, the big concerns will be difficult (or impossible) to change later on. Buying a home that’s in a bad neighborhood or is too small for your family can make you incredibly dissatisfied after a while. Turning around and selling the home too soon after buying is not only a headache, but can also make you lose money.

Learn as much as you can about the homes you’re considering for purchase. If you don’t find the ideal place right away, that’s absolutely fine. House hunting can take months before you find the right property for you and your family.

Smartphones: Don’t Pay More for Quality

You’re probably familiar with absurdly high-priced smartphones like the Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S series. With these phones costing $500 and up, many consumers opt for payment plans. They have a monthly installment added to their cell phone bills in order to even afford the device.

However, if you want a high-functioning smartphone, a $500+ device isn’t your only option. There are competitors who make comparable smartphones that come with top of the line specs as well. For example, the ZTE Axon 7 will cost you about $400 and comes with a sharp camera, generous storage, and an attractive design. Another example is the Moto G4 Plus, which costs $299. It comes with an HD display and a long battery life.

Part of the reason high-priced smartphones are so popular is because they’re seen as a status symbol. If you’re just looking for a reliable smartphone, you can definitely forego the brand name and still get good quality.

Mattresses: Pay More for Quality

You go to sleep on a bed every night. Why not pay a little more to ensure your mattress is comfortable?

Getting a mattress that’s made from durable and high-quality materials can make a big difference in how well you sleep and how pleasant your body feels. Whether you choose a bouncy innerspring mattress or a firm memory foam mattress, you usually get what you pay for in terms of quality. A good mattress can last up to 10 years. But a poor quality one could have broken springs or stagnant memory foam after just a couple of years.

Mattresses can cost thousands of dollars. But you don’t have to pay that price. Department stores like Macy’s have sales throughout the year that can save you a considerable amount of money on such a large purchase. Be sure to also shop around at local mom & pop stores near holiday weekends (like Labor Day), as many of them will be willing to negotiate the price with you.

Walking/Running Shoes: Pay More for Quality

Foot health is important, but often overlooked. Many see foot pain as unavoidable and as something you just have to deal with when you’ve been on your feet for long periods of time. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. High quality walking/running shoes can not only prevent foot pain, but can also support your soles and offer breathability.

Although high quality walking/running shoes offer better support, they do experience wear and tear just as any other pair of shoes would. If you use them daily, it’s recommended to replace them about every six months. This may come as a large expense to you if you’re not used to buying top of the line shoes or replacing them that often. But it’s worth it if it means preventing pain and promoting good foot health.

Batteries: Pay More for Quality

If you have small children with lots of electronic toys or otherwise use electronics often, you know how important it is to have long-lasting batteries. Dollar store batteries just don’t hold up to the trusted brands, Duracell and Energizer. In fact, some electronics specifically call for high-quality batteries in order to function properly. I’ve experienced this with my digital camera.

If you look at some dollar store battery packages, you’ll even see recommended purposes for the batteries. The recommendations are usually for low-drain devices like alarm clocks or television remotes. When it comes to high-drain devices, like a video game remote control or a digital camera, you’ll want to pay more for high-quality batteries.

Sunglasses: Don’t Pay More for Quality

Sunglasses are eyewear that protect your eyes from the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight. There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. As long as your sunglasses protect from both types of UV rays, you don’t have to worry about the price of them. Beyond that, you often pay more for style. Just look for the sticker that indicates the UVA/UVB protection. It might also say “100% UV protection”, which means the same thing.

Sunglasses, in general, are fragile. To decrease the likelihood of breaking them, try not to keep them in your pockets or hanging from your shirt. The best place for them when they’re not on your face is in a case.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of times when paying more for quality equals a better product. There are also times when, clearly, it doesn’t. When you’re considering a purchase, really take time to think about and research whether the increase in quality is substantial enough to warrant paying a lot more. This is when it’s important to do things like read online reviews, to further examine your choices.

What other purchases can you think of that warrant paying a bit more for quality… or some that don’t?

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The Philadelphia Soda Tax Is Now In Effect – Time to Start Drinking Water

by Michael Pruser

Last year, the city of Philadelphia decided to pass into law a “beverage tax,” which taxes the sugary drinks you consume at the rate of 1.5 cents per ounce.  At the time, there was some considerable outcry from residents of the city. Nevertheless, the government stuck to their guns. Well, at the turn of this new […]

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Today is the Day to Finish Your Gift-Buying… It’s Free Shipping Day!

by Stephanie Colestock

Well, we’re less than two weeks from Christmas, which means the shopping pinch is upon us. If you’re like me, you’re probably nowhere near done with your Christmas shopping – still have three people to shop for, and we are coming down to the wire. This year, though, I’m avoiding that last-minute, mad dash at […]

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Amazon Prime: Is It Worth the Cost?

by Charles Aquino

In 2006, I was receiving about five deliveries a week from online shopping orders. What can I say? I was an online shopaholic. Amazon Prime was only a year old at the time, and I became tired of hoarding filler items in order to qualify for the $25 free shipping minimum. To me, receiving free […]

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11 Ways to Start Preparing for the Holiday Shopping Pinch

by Abby Hayes

Does your New Year usually start with a resolution to pay off all that debt you racked up during the holiday shopping season? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Holiday retail sales increased 3 percent in 2015, and many consumers carried that extra spending into the new year in the form of new debt. The key […]

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Black Friday Was a Bust

by Luke Landes

The National Retail Federation has admitted defeat. Sales over the past holiday weekend dropped 11 percent over Thanksgiving weekend in 2013 according to the organization in a press release yesterday. The organization reversed course after being highly positive about the prospects for shopping leading up to the announcement of the estimated figures. Shopping traffic for the […]

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Black Friday Deals: Don’t Fall for These Dirty Tricks

by Luke Landes

For some reason, this year I’ve been bombarded more than any other year by advertisements for Black Friday deals. The marketing is coming from helpful people who just want to share the good news with their friends, people who are clearly paid to spread the messages, and retailers who simply want people to buy as […]

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