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Are holiday gift cards the bargain you want?

December 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
With the holiday shopping season just about over retailers are trying everything to get you to shop with them. The latest strategy is free gift cards with purchase.Some consumers say they like the idea of a free gift card, while others aren't so sure. After all, there are a few catches when you get a free card.

Most holiday shoppers are looking for bargains and are seeking out

Signs offer substantial discounts to get you in the store. But some merchants are now trying a different tactic.

Dick's Sporting Goods, for one, is offering a free gift card to consumers who make a purchase over a certain amount. But is that enough to motivate today's more frugal shoppers?

"I think it would be great to get a free gift card if I'm already buying something. That's like what I would buy would would be free," said Burbank shopper Troy Miller.

And because of responses like that, several other stores hope the free gift card strategy will work for them too.

At Islands Restaurants, purchase a $100 gift card, get a $20 voucher. At Williams-Sonoma, spend $50 dollars and receive at $10 voucher.

Need groceries? At Ralphs, spending $50 nets you 100 bonus points. Don't forget your club card.

Other deals include Abercrombie and Fitch, where spending $100 nets you a $25 gift card. At TAPS Fish House and Brewery, you'll get free Sunday brunch at their Brea and Corona locations after buying $100 gift card. And when you spend $149 -- before tax -- at Dick's Sporting Goods, you'll get a $50 cash card.

But here's the catch: You have to spend it all at once. In fact, at most of the stores the gift card they give you needs to be spent in the month of January, or they require membership in a rewards program, so check the details before you buy.

"Sure, everybody's looking for a deal. But if you're going to give something away, why don't you discount it instead of just giving something away?" asked Burbank shopper Tory Gubins.

Because in January you won't be spending much after your holiday spree and the stores want you back. Remember, that's their strategy, to get you in the store at any cost, which just might be working.

Just in case you're not clear on gift-card expiration dates, the state of California says if you buy a gift card it cannot have any expiration whatsoever. But if you are given a gift card by the store, then that's different and the store can put a limit on its use.


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