Literally, My 2 Cents

I absolutely hate wasting money. I hate it even more when I make bone headed mistakes gift card churning. For a cyber Monday deal, there was a Panera deal where you buy $100 in gift cards, you’ll receive $20 back, and the going rate to sell was 80% back. I thought this is awesome! Free points! I quickly racked up $500, charged it right up then realized I over paid and was buying points at $.04/point. Ouch.

I like using OneVanilla cards, they’re cheaper with an activation fee of $4.95 and easier to use, set whatever PIN you’d like on first debit card use. There’s not much trouble with them. My local vendor that sells money orders accepts OneVanillas, but has a few hoops to jump through.

  • $300 max purchase per money order
  • $.99 per money order

When I wrap up the transaction, I have two money orders and $.02 left on the OneVanilla card. I could leave the money on the card, and write it off as part of the “fee.” In the grand scheme of percentages, $.02 isn’t much after using a 5% cash back card, but I don’t like the idea of leaving money behind languishing.

How To Fix:

It’s a pain in the butt to figure out, but there are various stores out there that run different operating systems and applications for their point of sale systems. If there’s a vendor that you frequent and has new software, you can easily clear out cards without telling the cashier to split the payment. I can tell you that Starbucks and CVS has the ability to auto drain, but as with many retailers and different software releases, your mileage may vary.

If you’re in a situation like me, with a few cents on a card, do be kind, and don’t hold up the line swiping a ton of cards to settle a tab.

10 comments… add one
  • Target is also good for this – their software has never had a problem with any of my gift cards

  • Surprisingly I was able to drain around $2.50 off a GC at Wendy’s. As always, YMMV.

  • Anything $0.15 or over goes to amazon. Anything less gets tossed. You would have to consider the value of time to be nearly worthless to make it worthwhile to put in the time necessary to clear a few pennies off the gift cards. As an example, I end up with numerous GCs with $0.05 left over. If I had 1000 such cards and could liquidate them in 10 seconds each it would take me over 2 and a half hours to get back $50. And this doesn’t even include the time necessary to figure out the method or the trouble of lugging 1000 cards a store. Your time is worth more than that. Save time, not pennies with super low value GCs.

    • Amazon used to accept $0.15 min for egift cards. Now it’s $0.50 min. I buy a ton at Amazon so the ability to drain misc amounts off gcs is very helpful.

      And yes, worrying about 2 cents is simply absurd!

  • I use the self checkout lane at the grocery store for draining these small amts. I just keep them in my purse until I’m buying groceries and then swipe them all through on my own.

  • Hey, do u still visit that other vendor who allowed 1000 money orders?

  • Thanks everyone for the feedback! You’ve all given me a great idea on what to do to fix the problem nice and easy. Stay tuned!


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