Managing Gift Cards

by MB on February 4, 2008

Gift Card Tracking Spreadsheet Screen Shot

I hate gift cards.  

Stores love them because they get income up front without having to immediately produce a good or service, they receive interest income on that income until the card is redeemed, and they know that a sizable portion will never be redeemed.  Additionally, after a period of time, the stores will begin to charge a penalty against un-redeemed cards that will eventually decrease their value to zero.

I know that over the years I have lost at least $200 worth of gift cards – they are just too easy to put in a drawer, and disappear from memory.  So, I developed a system to track my gift cards and their balances.

Spreadsheet

Every time I receive a gift card, I enter it into my tracking system.  The tracking system is a simple Google Spreadsheet that lists the issuer of the card, the balance on the card, and the date received.  I don’t typically track the penalty date, but if I have had a card for a while, I will lookup the terms on the sore’s web site.

I keep the physical cards in a single envelope in my filing cabinet, so that I know can retrieve them easily.

Quicken or Microsoft Money

An alternative method for users of Quicken or Microsoft Money would be to create an asset account and track your cards in that manner.

This method has the added bonus of being “in your face” so that it lessens your chance of forgetting you have a card.

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