We’re just going to come right out and say it.
The most likely way to lose money with gift card reselling is not some major catastrophic event like gift card codes getting hacked or a bulk buyer going out of business.
It’s if you lose track of your cards once you start dealing with them in bulk. It doesn’t even matter if you are buying physical gift cards or e-gift cards.
Both can get lost if you’re not on top of the process, and if that happens, you take a huge hit which may defeat the whole reason for reselling gift cards in the first place.
If you think you’re only going to be dabbling in gift cards, then maybe this isn’t something you need to worry about.
But if your plan is to meet huge minimum spends, you NEED a way to track every card. Here are some organizational tips that we use to stay organized.
Missing the organized gene? No worries – we’ve developed some simple procedures and tools to help you keep tabs on your inventory.
While both physical and e-gift cards should be tracked, there are some special considerations for physical cards. This is Norma’s wheelhouse, so she’s going to share how she keeps everything buttoned down. Later, Ed will share how he tracks his e-gift cards.
Organizational tips for in-store physical gift cards
Below are the steps I go through and some of the things I consider when buying physical gift cards from stores.
- First, you need to find out about a deal via social media, signing up for multiple email lists, or joining various communities which you can find by Googling “gift card reselling”. We provided some ideas in the “Finding the deals” section – go ahead and review that if you need to.
- Then you need to figure out if the store, where the gift card is being sold, is available in your area. Is there a limit on how many cards you can buy?
- Determine which credit card you’re going to use, based on the merchant type and what kind of category bonus your card earns you.
Things to consider before heading out:
- The need to meet minimum spend.
- The need for certain miles from specific airlines or programs.
- Maximizing category bonuses such as Discover giving 5% cashback at warehouses like Sam’s Club.
- Are coupons needed? If so, get them. You can often find them in the store flyer, online, or digitally.
- Map out a route if going to multiple stores.
Then when you hit the stores, here are some things to think about:
If your significant other is your gift card partner, double up to double dip in one go! Go to different checkout lanes to get twice as many cards allowed per location.
Buy the gift cards. Keep activation slips and receipts from the same store together in the same bag until you get home like below:
Organizational tips for when you get home
Once you get home with your loot, that’s when the real organizing begins. If you don’t feel up to it right away, that’s ok. You can come back to it since you’ve done a good job keeping the gift cards, receipts, and activation slips from the same store in the same bag. Right?
When you are ready to start organizing your gift cards, here’s what you do:
- Take the cards out of bags keeping activation slips and receipts with each batch.
- Separate cards and staple activation receipts to the main receipt.
- If you have variable load cards, write the amount you loaded on the card with a marker. In addition, I write the buyer, date and a number on the receipt to link it with certain groups of cards. If I go to four stores, I write #1, #2, #3, #4 on the receipts.
- Take off the peely to see the code. Some will need to be scraped off. You can use a fingernail, coin, knife or a Scotty peeler. Just be careful that you don’t scrape too hard or you may scratch off the gift code.
Getting the cards ready for bulk buyers
Depending on the gift card, buyers may require images. To save time I line up gift cards and the receipt. After the cards are set out, and I can actually see what my stash looks like, I total the number of gift cards I have based on the merchant brand and denomination. I save this information for later.
- I take pictures of each batch, then I go for the assembly line approach. The more of the process I can batch, the easier it becomes. It also lessens the likelihood of “forgetting” a step or where I was in the process if I get interrupted.
- I then save the image and/or send an email to myself with the information. I file it in a way that will make it easy to find if I had to check a code or look for a card. In this case the image/email is saved as TPM.Publix.iTunes.50. Dec.12.#3. Here’s how to decode it:
- TPM is the buyer.
- Publix is the store.
- iTunes is the gift card merchant.
- 50 is the value of the gift card
- The date is when I bought the gift card.
- The number is the third store I went to that day.
If I’m buying from multiple stores in the same day, I number them so I can cross reference them on the spreadsheet I keep. If there’s an issue with a card number, this makes it easier to find. I just need to go through one stack of cards versus looking for a needle in a haystack.
On the receipt, I’ll also put the buyer, date, and a number. Yes, I know the receipt has a date on it, but since I’m a little older it’s easier to read the date if it’s written in ink. Plus, some thermal receipts fade and most buyers like you to keep the cards for 6 – 12 months.
- I enter the code(s) into the website form or on a spreadsheet as per the bulk buyer’s instructions.
- Once I’ve entered the code and PIN (if one is required), I wrap the receipt around the gift cards and secure the stack with a rubber band.
- I then file the cards and receipts using a storage box and put the name of the buyer on the outside of the lid.
Archiving the gift cards in a list
After that, I enter information into my tracking document. For The Plastic Merchant (TPM), since I have a copy of the list, TPM keeps records of the codes, and I already have the images saved or the physical cards, I DON’T copy the merchant gift card number into my spreadsheet.
Note: If you are planning to sell directly to a marketplace like Ed does, you are going to want to include the gift card codes.
Although it’s not in the example below, I’ve added another column and I now note if the gift card is an e-card. It makes it easier if I need to locate a card. I also batch items in my tracking document. Instead of listing each card individually, I will put the total.
- Here’s an example of the spreadsheet I use. It’s a little different than what Ed uses as I don’t need to track inventory.
Was it worth it?
In the particular example above, $50 iTunes cards were on sale for only $40 at Publix, a grocery chain in my state. To maximize the deal, I used a credit card that gave 5% cashback at grocery stores.
Here are the numbers:
Each card I bought cost me $40. I was able to sell them for $43 making a $3 profit per card. In addition, I earned another $2 per card due to the cashback credit card I used. Thus the profit was $5 per card. All in all, we were able to get 178 iTunes cards.
As you can see, we made $890 on that deal! Again, this is not the norm but it’s sure fun when it happens.
Now let’s look at how to stay organized when buying egift cards with Ed.
Organizational tips for egift card purchases
Compared to physical gift cards, organizing egift cards can be a lot easier if you are even a little familiar with Excel.
I especially like the flexibility that egift cards give me since we travel a lot as part of our homeschooling curriculum.
It’s great to be able to manage my entire gift card hobby from anywhere there is Internet access.
Staying organized is actually pretty simple.
It’s all about tracking the order once it has been placed, and using tools and processes to stay on top of each group of orders until the gift card numbers are safely in your spreadsheet and ready for listing.
For security, I password-protect my spreadsheets, since the gift card codes need to be protected like money. It’s easy to do and can be done in less than 30 seconds in Microsoft Excel. I’m told this feature is missing in Google Sheets, so you can decide if this level of security is important for you or not.
A step-by-step guide to keeping track of egift cards
Right after making a purchase, I create a new line entry for every card I buy in my spreadsheet and flag each as “GC unissued”. That way, if the egift card never shows up in my inbox, I have an easy way to sort my spreadsheet and chase the missing egift cards down.
If I ordered 10 gift cards, I create 10 lines, set their status to “GC Unissued” and include the:
- Name of Merchant/Brand
- Face Value
- Actual Amount Paid
As each egift card reaches me, I update each line with the gift card number and PIN (if there is one).
When the egift cards get delivered, I copy and paste the gift card number and PIN into my spreadsheet. I also change the status to “Unlisted” or “Listed” if I am going to list it immediately.
Usually, the gift card number and PIN will be on a webpage that is linked from the notification email as with the Staples/Applebee’s example below.
Clicking on the “View Gift” button above would take you to an Applebee’s gift card below:
Sometimes, the codes are in the email itself, as in the Costco example below.
Tips for those new to spreadsheets or less familiar with computers:
You can make the copying and pasting go faster by holding down Control C to copy, and Control V to paste (Command C and V for Macs).
Sometimes, when you paste the gift codes, the numbers show up in a weird way, like 5.33999 E+23 (math geeks will recognize this as scientific notation). The way to fix this is to:
insert a space between the gift code numbers before pasting the numbers, or
format all numbers in the column as text, or
use the spreadsheet we provide which should take care of the issue.
And that’s it! My virtual lockbox of gift cards is good to go, and I’m ready to move forward with listing the cards!