Last-minute gift idea? Give a gift card, get a free one for you

If you’re hunting for last-minute gift ideas, gift card holiday specials let you give a gift and get something extra.

Dozens of retailers, movie houses and restaurant chains are sweetening their gift card offers with extra perks for buyers.

For example, when I bought my dad a $50 gift card from the movie theater chain, I received a $10 snack pass I could use myself or pass on to my dad.

Similarly, when I bought my mom a $50 dining card at , I received another $10 gift card.

As my husband and I were shopping for last-minute gifts this week, we also realized these holiday season gift card specials could help us save money over the next year.

For example, I bought a $40 gift card from clothing store and received a $10 coupon for the next time I need to get clothes for our 3-year-old son.

And since is our closest pizza shop, I bought a $25 Blaze gift card. With the gift card purchase and downloading the Blaze app, I received a free coupon for a free pizza.

and are keeping running tallies of gift card promotions at merchants around the country. Just be sure to check directly with a retailer before settling on a deal. Some of the retailers listed aren’t currently promoting their gift card deals online.

Some of the best holiday gift card promotions I’ve seen:

  • is offering a free movie ticket when you spend $75 on gift cards. Spend $100 and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a year of free movies.
  • and Alamo Drafthouse are giving moviegoers who spend $50 on a gift card a $10 credit for snacks and drinks.
  • is offering a $5 bonus card when you spend $50 on gift cards and a $20 bonus card when you spend $100.
  • is giving away a $5 credit for every $25 you spend on gift cards.
  • will give you a $20 rewards card when you spend $75.
  • A ton of restaurant chains are offering $10 rewards in exchange for $50 in gift card spending, including , , and . Some restaurants also offer deals on smaller gift card purchases, too. For example, , , and several other national chains are offering $5 bonus cards when you purchase a $25 gift card.

A few other things to consider about these gift card holiday specials:

If you purchase gift cards with your , you also get cash back, miles or points. That’s another bonus on top of the extra gift card, free pizza coupon or other holiday bonus.

Be sure to read the details for the gift card holiday specials, before you purchase gift cards. Many of the gift card extras expire as soon as January or just a few months into 2018.

Be careful, too, about where you buy your gift card. You may need to purchase the gift card directly from the retailer or restaurant, rather than a third-party website, to score a holiday bonus.

Also, check your budget before snapping up gift cards as last-minute gifts or to score savings in the new year with these holiday specials.  It can be tempting to order more gift cards than you can afford or need.

I know I have trouble passing up a good promotion, but if you get too caught up in bargain hunting, you could easily find yourself spending more than you planned.

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