Would you like to save 20% on cat supplies at PetSmart and 5% off at Target FUR-ever? By following these simple tips, you’ll never have to pay full price at either of these two stores ever again. It takes about five minutes to read this article, but with the money you’ll save, you can spoil your kitty with a lifetime of eco-friendly toys and treats.
So how do you do it? The way to save money is by buying discounted gift cards on a gift card exchange site like Raise or Cardpool. However, there is an art to doing this to simplify the process, maximize your savings, minimize the risk of getting a bad gift card—and also be eco-freindly!
But first, you need to understand how gift card reselling works. These gift card marketplaces describe themselves as exchanges where buyers can pick up discounted gift cards, and sellers can earn extra cash by selling their unwanted gift cards.
Sellers with cards they don’t want sell them at a discount. Buyers looking for a deal buy the gift cards. The gift card site makes money by taking a percentage of the transaction, which is paid for by the seller.
This all sounds wonderful on the website, but if this was how it really worked, it wouldn’t explain why there are so many of the same types of cards in certain amounts for specific retailers such as The Gap, Starbucks, and Target. After all, who gives a $1,000 gift card for Home Depot that the recipient doesn’t want?
How Gift Card Sites Really Work
At first, I wondered if some of the gift cards were being sold as part of a scam. Were people selling stolen gift cards on these sites? Were they buying them with stolen credit cards? But then I dug a little deeper and discovered this was not the case at all. Instead, I learned about gift card arbitrage.
What’s that you ask? Gift card arbitrage is buying gift cards at a discount and then selling them for a small margin above what was paid. While the margins may only be a fraction of a percent, money is made by trading in a large volume. There’s a whole world of people out there who make money by buying and reselling gift cards. They invest their time to watch for deals that let them buy discounted gift cards, earn loyalty rewards, and rack up credit card cash back points and travel miles.
For example, they might get a Bank of America Visa deal that let’s them earn 15% cash back on purchases at The Gap. So they buy gift cards at The Gap, and earn the cash back. They then resell the gift cards at a discount that’s less than 15% and pocket the difference. While they won’t make a lot of money on $100, it adds up when they buy and sell in bulk.
Other people buy gift cards to meet spending quotas on credit cards that earn them travel bonuses. They might earn 1% on their Visa for their Sears purchase, get loyalty points at Sears, and meet a quota that results in them getting 50,000 travel miles. So then, selling a gift card at a 5% discount actually earns them money.
This all makes my head spin, but the bottom line is that gift card arbitragers do all the work so that you don’t have to. Businesses offer incentives and discounts to attract more customers because it’s profitable for them to do so. If Citibank was losing money on their credit card offers, they would most definitely stop offering them.
So no, it’s not a scam. In fact, it looks like a win-win-win for everyone involved. The only reservation I have is the unnecessary plastic involved with gift cards, but there’s a way around this too, and I’ll explain how you can save on the plastic and still save money.
One other thing to note is that some gift card sites are more proactive in protecting buyers than other sites. They require sellers to provide identification and they boot off troublemakers. Because of their strict policies, these sites guarantee the value of the gift card for a specific period after your purchase. The length of time varies depending on the site, but I’ll share my favorite two. They both have A+ ratings with the Better Business Bureau and I’ve purchased gift cards from each of them without any issues.
Raise is the biggest exchange out there in terms of volume so you can easily find a PetSmart or Target gift card for the exact amount you’re looking for, and for most major retailers, too. Raise also offers a 100-day guarantee on the gift card balance, and they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. I’ve purchased numerous cards from them and not had a single problem with any of them. In fact, I save about $100 a month using Raise!
They also offer a sweet sign-up deal where you can get $5 towards your first order with a referral code. It’s like money for free because they’ll give you a $5 credit when you sign up through a referral link like this one:
And no, it’s not a scam either. The $5 is considered a marketing cost for Raise–what’s referred to in marketing lingo as the cost to acquire a customer.
This gift card site is smaller and has less selection than Raise, but occasionally they offer better deals–most likely because they have to in order to attract buyers. Raise works like an auction where sellers set their own price, but Cardpool determines the discount rate and buys inventory from sellers.
As a result, the prices can vary dramatically on Raise–I’ve seen Target gift cards offered with discounts between 0% to 7.1% all at the same time. On Cardpol however, the Target discount has been 5.5% to 6% off during the past three months I’ve checked the site.
If a store is really popular like Target, the discounts tend to be smaller. For specialized retailers like PetSmart, the discounts tend to be higher. That’s why I’ve seen PetSmart discounts between 8% to over 20%. While you can usually snag a better deal on Raise, you have to be willing to keep checking their site regularly. Cardpool on the other hand, is more like the “buy it now” option on eBay.
Cardpool also offers a 100-day guarantee on gift card balances, but only for physical gift cards. They guarantee electronic gift card balances upon delivery, but after you receive the egiftcard, they no longer guarantee the amount, which is why I prefer to use the full amount of digital gift cards right away. Cardpool also has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Raise, at the time of writing this article, offers the 100-day guarantee on all of the cards they sell, both physical and electronic. I think they can do this because bulk sellers have to stay in good standing with Raise in order to continue selling on the site. I prefer Raise, but I do have a workaround to minimize my risk for buying egiftcards.
Cardpool also offers $5 off on your first purchase when you click this link:
How to Save 5% or More Off Cat Supplies and Green Cleaning Products at Target
Now I’ll explain how you can do save on cat supplies (and pretty much everything else you buy at the store) at Target, Petsmart, and many other major retailers. I’ll use Target as an example.
- Sign up at Raise.com and use the referral code tholly to get $5 off your first order. Or sign up and get $5 off at Cardpool.
- Visit the Target website and filter your search results by choosing the “buy online and pick it up today” option under the “availability” filter. This option will show you the items that are in stock at the store of your choice. Continue adding items to your cart. When you’re done, check the shopping cart for the total dollar amount of your purchase. Do not pay yet.
- Next, visit Raise or Cardpool to find an ELECTRONIC gift card as close to the amount you need, but make sure the balance is less than the total amount. I prefer a smaller amount so that I can use up the entire amount of the gift card right away, and then I don’t have to be concerned about the balance of the gift card or bother with the hassle of keeping track of small leftover amounts.
- For electronic gift cards, Raise usually delivers them instantly so when you get your gift card, you can enter the code to pay for your purchase at the Target website.
- After submitting your order, you’ll get an email from Target when it’s ready for pick up, usually in under two hours. The service is free and you also get four days to pick up your order. Simply go to customer service, show your driver’s license and you’re good to When you submit your order, a Target employee will gather the items at the store so that you don’t have to wander the aisles looking for them yourself. Your order should be ready for you to pick up at customer service in about an hour or two, and you’ll receive an email when it’s ready.
There’s no need to print anything out, no need to get excess packaging to ship the items to your home, and no plastic gift card is ever produced–making this method a very eco-friendly way to save money by purchasing discounted gift cards.
How to Save 20% Off at PetSmart
In the past, I’ve skewered this retailer for some of its questionable practices, but in the years since I began this blog, there have been a lot of changes in the pet industry in terms of green offerings and improvements in social responsibility.
Given that PetSmart is such a ubiquitous big box retailer, for many people, this may be their best and most convenient option for buying pet supplies. Times have changed and PetSmart now offers more natural and eco-friendly products than ever before, so if you are going to shop here, you might as well save some serious coin while you’re doing it.
Like Target, PetSmart also offers a shop in store option on their website. Simply shop online at Petsmart.com as you would for Target, and remember to choose the option to pick up your items in the store.
Remember to Get $5 Off Your First Order