More on Those Slabs of Plastic Redeemable for Goods and Services

Mike: So, Logan, yesterday you wrote about an experience you had with a Target gift card. Is that an isolated experience, or are you like that with gift cards in general—meaning to use them, but hiding them away, forgetting about them, and perhaps losing them?

Logan: Um, definitely not an isolated experience. I also have a Best Buy gift certificate bopping around somewhere. Another pity gift from another cousin. Cousins! Love to show their love with discarded gift cards. Mine at least. I also don’t think I ever used any of the Visa Gift Cards I got when those were a thing that people bought. Remember those? I never knew how to use them, so I never used them. And you, what is your position on gift cards?

Mike: I’m not a huge fan of gift cards either, but I’ve been able to keep track of them and use them over a period of time. Let’s see, I also have a Best Buy gift card! It’s in my bag with me. My brother gave it to me for my birthday last year, and I have yet to figure out a reason to use it. I also have a gift card to Eataly, which is a gourmet Italian place here in the city. I know everything there costs a bunch of money so I’ve been avoiding it, but I should just go one of these days and buy a nice bottle of olive oil and call it a day. Hmm. I have a gift card to Shake Shack that I got a year ago, and I’ve used half of it? I have gone to the Shake Shack a few times and forgotten that I have a gift card, though.

Logan: Sorry, I read Shake Shack and then my eyeballs turned into two cheeseburgers. But I’m back now. Eataly is so cool. I have never purchased anything there. Lies. Gelato. But everything is so pretty and fancy. Can you imagine doing all of your grocery shopping there? I bet there are people who do all of their grocery shopping there. NEW YORK! Do you know anything about cured meats?

Mike: I think I tried their porchetta, and it was really good. Okay, so if you know that This Is the Way You Are With Gift Cards, have you told people not to get them for you? Like if your parents want to give you a Visa Gift Card you’ll say, “cash is better, trust?”

Logan: I think there are certain times gift cards are good. Like, to restaurants. Or to somewhere special—like your Eataly gift card sounds really nice and thoughtful!

Mike: So does this mean that if you received a gift card to Eataly it would not end up the way your Target gift card did?

Logan: Well, I think I would use it right away. On gelato! Cheese. Cured meats.

Mike: What was it about Target, though? You could also get snacks there or things for your pantry, and both of these places require the intent and planning of making a trip there. And I think that’s why I’ve held onto this Eataly gift card for so long—I really haven’t had a reason to go or felt the urge to set aside time specifically to make the trip.

Logan: This story might say more about the fact that I don’t have a wallet than anything else. Just a lot of totebags. And it’s a ~mystery~ which one of them has the gift cards swimming around in it!

Mike: Initially, when I read the card was specifically for Target, I was like, “Of course she is avoiding Target—the Target in Brooklyn is a madhouse!” The few times I’ve gone it was super crowded and the lines were kind of insane. Logan, if you don’t have a wallet, where do you keep your money? Also, do you want a wallet for your next birthday? I will buy you one.

Logan: Hhah I have a wallet. I just don’t use it because I prefer to travel light so um, when I don’t have my bag with my laptop in it (always), I can just have my Metrocard and my debit card and my I.D. in my pocket. Keeping it svelte.

Mike: Hah, this is clearer to me now. Do whatever works! But also, the next time we hang out, maybe we should make a trip to Eataly and then I can treat us both to gelato, which will be like $20. And I’ll use the leftover $5 on a slice of some kind of cured meat.

Logan: And if I ever find my Target gift card I will buy you … something less exciting than gelato. Lightbulbs. Ballpoint pens. Reasonably priced designer-collaborated goods.

Mike: If you do find that Target gift card, look up the balance online! I think some readers were waiting for a “big reveal” that didn’t end up happening. What if there’s $500 on there?

Logan: Hahha I don’t think she’d have a $500 Target gift card at the bottom her bag. But maybe she did. And now maybe I do!



11 Comments / Post A Comment

joyballz (#2,000)

The obnoxious thing about the Visa and Mastercard gift cards is that you have to use it all at once or remember the exact balance because merchants cannot just swipe and then have you pay the difference. You have to tell them to swipe it for 23.78 or whatever and then pay the difference. Tedious.

Work around: Go to Trader Joe’s or grocery store of choice and then buy a $50 or $20 gift card with your $50 or $20 Visa/MC gift card. Then you don’t have to worry about the exact balance and groceries feel free.

JuliaS (#5,364)

@joyballz that used to be true but nowadays, at least where I work, when you swipe the gift card, the credit card terminal says “$5.06, collect partial amount?” and you can say yes. it also prints out the remaining balance on the customer receipt. technology!

boogers mcgee (#4,474)

@joyballz I was just this minute doing a google search on how to use up the last $3 (and change) on a Visa gift card I’d received at Christmas. While I’m sure it’s not that big a deal for a store to use two forms of payment, I do have this fear of being That Person who needs special treatment at the register (then there’s a line behind me! People are talking about me! Oh god no)

@boogers mcgee No @JuliaS is right, it’s pretty easy nowadays! I always give it to the cashier and caveat that I don’t know how much is on there, but it automatically applies whatever the balance is. At least, that’s been my experience at major retailers. I wouldn’t try it at, say, my local co-op, but Target? Sure.

jquick (#3,730)

Why don’t you have a swap meet? Get together with friends and trade cards. Can you use the target card for online purchases? I think they have free shipping.

cryptolect (#1,135)

When you go to Eataly, let everyone know so we can come stalk you. I mean, say hi. Yes, say hi and buy you gelato.

athens_baby (#2,527)

“Sorry, I read Shake Shack and then my eyeballs turned into two cheeseburgers.”

Logan you are the greatesttttttt!

acid burn (#113)

I used to have the overflowing wallet problem, so I moved all of my punchcards and giftcards and membership cards into a little cloth bag that I keep in my purse. So if I just want the basics I can put my slimmed-down wallet in my pants pocket, and otherwise I have everything else in my purse. Except I switched purses the other day and forgot to transfer it and have thus far missed out on like three punchcard punches at various places, like A TOTAL CHUMP!

amglory89 (#3,588)

Logan!!! Get a business card holder and use it for your cards that you use a lot. Less likely to lose them and still fits in a pocket/bottom of a tote. This is how I do.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

Re: wallet-having: I do carry a wallet, but I like it nice and slim. So, I have a separate little coin pouch things for gift cards. Sometimes I carry it with me and sometimes I leave it at home, but if I want to know where a gift card is, it’s in the pouch! Logan, i hope you find your Target card and get something nice.

kbn22 (#1,414)

As far as gift cards, I always take a photo with my phone of the back of the gift card (making sure all redemption/claim/access/whatever codes are clearly visible). So if I lose the card, at least I’ve still got the code to use it online. Obviously, this won’t work for Eatily, but for Target and Best Buy, you’re good to go.

And every few months when I’ve got a free half hour and am feeling especially organized, I check all the amounts on my gift cards and email a chart to myself, including all the relevant codes. I also try to keep track of my Groupons/Living Social/Scoutmob deals this way.

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